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No Protection from Political Bullies or Nannies

No Protection from Political Bullies or Nannies

Friday 22nd Jun 2001 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

Every councillor should take the time to check Sandra Lee's discussion document on "Powers of General Competence for Local Government", ACT MP Stephen Franks said today.

"Proposed local body limitations are not intended to protect rational councillors or citizens from political bullies and nannies," Stephen Franks said.

"Instead they will force more people into wasting time in politics, just to protect themselves.

"Ratepayers’ funds could be used to promote green politicians, religions, health fads, or to harass and boycott unpopular causes or groups such as bio-tech industries.

"Money could even be used to sponsor litigation or business development.

"As the discussion paper shows, the only restraints on councillors’ electioneering or grandstanding with ratepayers money and assets will be:

1. a need to claim it promotes local communities ‘social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing’,

2. the council has gone through its consultation ritual, which normal busy people will avoid. They have better things to do,

3. unstipulated, "specific limitations on use of powers".

"Every fortunate council has a nucleus of experienced conscientious prudent and usually hardworking councillors. Other members range from the helpful but insubstantial to the noisy and troublesome. A major problem for conscientious councillors is that they will no longer have a legislative backstop to fiscal discipline when fruitcake proposals are latched onto by the loopies who get through the local election process.

"The political and community limitations outlined by the Government do not even address the risks of majoritarian tyranny. Small groups can high-jack political processes. Those who can endure the mindlessness of fanatics and their groupies.

"In short, the discussion document does not even recognise that the key role of a local government constitution is to protect people from politics, political processes and politicians," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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