Letter | Please give us back the style of council we expect

CONTROVERSIAL: After months of community debate, Oberon Council made the decision to fluoridate the town water supply at its meeting last week.
CONTROVERSIAL: After months of community debate, Oberon Council made the decision to fluoridate the town water supply at its meeting last week.

IT is interesting to note that in Tuesday’s Telegraph, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is quoted as saying “good governments ... stay out of people’s lives and give people the freedom to make their own choices”.  

On this basis our council may wish to write to the relevant department and tell them that in the implementation of council’s recent decision regarding fluoridation the community does not and will not accept their right to withdraw from the process some time in the future being taken away.

This will not only be some minor comfort to the 73 per cent of the community (based on the 1000 submissions given to council) who advised council that they did not want fluoridation, but will give the appearance at least that the council understands their role in looking after the community and they are not just puppets and implementers of the NSW bureaucratic process.

Perhaps the mayor may use her column next week to advise the community of the progress or inform the community of the council's reasons for not doing so.

It is a shame that this advisory comment from the Premier wasn’t made prior to council's decision that can only be seen as an impingement on the democratic rights of the individual in regards to freedom of choice.

I make this comment not as an advocate for or against fluoridation but as a believer that councils have the responsibility to ensure that due process is seen to be followed and that their personal beliefs do not damage and, in this case, almost destroy community harmony.

I believe the maintenance of community harmony is the last of the principles destroyed by this council.  

Council no longer has the previous transparency of process, with open discussion in council being replaced by councillor briefing sessions (many would identify as the secret squirrel meetings).

Individual decision-making by nine councillors has been replaced by almost party-like alliances between the mayor and at least three other councillors.

Community input has been restricted to what appears to be “when we want your opinion we will tell you what it is”. 

The example of what has happened to community harmony is before us.

When council sorts out this mess they have created would they please try and give us back the style of council that the majority of the community fought to save from amalgamation.

When I started this article I did so to express a short-winded disappointment at what I saw as a breach of trust by council not operating in a manner that we have historically come to expect and to express concern that having destroyed these perceived values, it will be difficult to maintain our future independence.

What motivation would there be for the Marj Armstrong of the future to pick up the challenge and lead the charge? As it currently stands, none.