At the Lane Cove Council March Meeting, a Mayoral Minute was passed to prohibit the use of Lane Cove Council’s Meeting Rooms (located in the Lane Cove Civic Centre) by political parties and lobby groups. The aim of this Mayoral Minute was to ensure that Lane Cove Council is seen as apolitical.
What is a Lobby Group?
The Mayoral Minute did not include a definition of lobby groups. What is a lobby group?
There are “official lobbyists” – individuals and firms where the frequency and import of their work require them to register themselves. You will see some of the names on the lobby group list include former politicians such as Kim Beazley. So sorry Kim, you will no longer be able to use the Lane Cove Civic Centre for meetings.
The dictionary definition of Lobby Group is:
A group of persons working on behalf of or strongly supporting a particular cause, such as an industry or an item of legislation.
This means that organisations such as the Lane Cove Sustainability Group, Lane Cove Amnesty, and any other group set up to promote a particular cause are now banned from using the Lane Cove Council’s meeting rooms.
It should be noted that the ban does not apply to all Lane Cove Council owned meeting rooms. However, the meeting rooms in the Lane Cove Council Civic Centre are regularly used by local community groups as the Lane Cove Civic Centre is easy to access, well known and has ample parking.
During the discussion on the Mayoral Minute, one particular group was discussed, Our land, Our Water, Our Future community action group.
A spokesperson for this group provided us with this comment:
Why doesn’t the Lane Cove Mayor, want her council to be associated with protecting NSW from coal seam gas? This includes protecting prime agricultural land, water catchments, the precious Great Artesian Basin and people living in regional communities. Surely, the Mayor represents the people of Lane Cove who over-whelmingly agree coal seam gas is not wanted in these areas. A 15,000 signature petition was tabled in NSW parliament in February this year stating exactly that. 6,000 of those signatures were collected in the Lane Cove Area.
Door knocks in the suburbs of Lane Cove have also determined via a short survey that 85% of households don’t want coal seam gas in water catchments or prime agricultural land. Councillor Hutchens and her Liberal Party colleagues are out of touch with the people they represent. Instead of locking out community groups from the Civic Centre who are raising awareness of these issues they should be embraced. Debate is the cornerstone of our democracy.
As whole countries and states around the world and in Australia (Victoria and Tasmania) ban hydraulic fracturing for gas (Coal Seam Gas here in Australia) is seems our local Liberal Councillors, along with their state and federal counterparts will be on the wrong side of history. Coal Seam gas has been proven to be unsafe, with high risks to human health. Reports from our own NSW Chief Scientist concluded “It is inevitable that the CSG industry will have unintended consequences, including as the result of accidents, human error and natural disasters” It is the last thing we need or want in our Australian countryside. The People of Lane Cove will continue to speak up against this highly risky industry.
This ban prohibits grassroots community action groups, who usually have limited resources, from hiring out the Lane Cove Civic Centre. This seems to fly in the face of democracy. What do you think? Should we ban local community action groups from using an asset owned by all rate payers?
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