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March 5, 2021

Lismore council says no to prayer and Australia Day date

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A majority of Lismore City councillors last night voted to do away with a prayer at the start of council meetings, and to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day.

But already Cr Greg Bennett has lodged a recission motion to ensure that the payer decision will again go before the council next month, when mayor Isaac Smith, who is a Christian, is back at the helm.

Cr Elly Bird’s motion to do away with the prayer resulted in a 6-4 vote, with Crs Greg Bennett, Gianpiero Battista, Nancy Casson, and Neil Marks voting against.

Elly Bird, Darlene Cook, Adam Guise, Vanessa Ekins, Eddie Lloyd and Bill Moorhouse supported doing away with the prayer.

The motion from Cr Ekins to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day passed 7-3, with Crs Greg Bennett, Nancy Casson, and Gianpiero Battista voting against.


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  1. Who do these councilors think they are? They are not ready to bow their heads to a higher consciousness which is within them, no! they want to be rulers and not servants. They were elected to serve the people, not rule! They should start by bowing their heads to a greater being which is within them and then they can serve us not rule over us. Maybe the culture of bowing will expand to the council staff whose egos love to rule over us and not serve.

    • If asked, I would expect Councillors to state that they’re the representatives of their community, elected to make important decisions on behalf of that community.
      It’s gratifying to learn that most no longer want their job description to include petitioning an invisible and unevidenced Big Sky Daddy to help them get the job done.
      Well done, Councillors.
      To those planning a recission motion I would say: “Superstition-ridden mumblings are unseemly in the Chamber. It’s the twenty-first century. Do try to catch up.”

      • You don’t seem to be aware that the phrases, “sky daddy” and “imaginery friend” are rather embarassing among intelligent people. The last person who used such infantile phrases was poor old Peter FitzSimons who wears a red nappy on his head for some reason.

        And moving the date for Australia Day only appeals to Greens and other PC morons.

        Most Australians are proud of the British foundations of this nation. Are you aware that support for Australia Day is actually higher among migrants than locals? Why? Probably because it was the day they were naturalized and became citizens of this wonderful country.

        As for helping reconciliation by moving the day – what garbage. All the indigenous people in our small town love Australia Day and turn out to celebrate it.

        Finally what sort of craven people are ashamed of their traditional national day? I’ve answered my own question; they’re craven. They have no honour or decency.

    • Its not about them being egotistic. Its about them giving equality to the people! Not everyone is a christian. So therefore christian prayer should be removed as it is the fairest thing for all. Like i said in a previous post. If you want to pray do it at church or at home, or when your out in nature. Not at the beginning of a council meeting, its unnecessary.

      • How is it fair to remove prayer from Christian councillors in order to make it fair for people who do not pray? Rather let the non-praying councillors remove themselves from the council chamber until the prayer is finished. Because some do not see the value of prayer it does not make it any less valuable to those who do.

        • Why should councillors have to leave the room just so christians can pray at a council meeting? That is seriously ridiculous.

  2. Councils’ responsibilities include leadership, which means activating on behalf of our community, on issues – any issue – important to our community. Roads, rates, rubbish, and rights!

  3. Thank you councillors for taking moral leadership and ensuring a progressive environment in council. I hope our Mayor joins you on the inclusive action of dropping the prayer. People who want to pray can do so before they go in, nobody would want to stop you doing it. There just is no need for it to be an official action in a secular country. And moving the date is beyond overdue.

  4. These actions will upset conservative people. And how will they vent their frustration? Tony Abbott provided the answer today. If you want to protect religious freedom – vote no in the plebiscite. If you don;t want political correctness – vote no in the postal plebiscite. Thanks Lismore Council – you have just given the no vote additional votes in what is shaping up to be a difficult struggle to achieve marriage rights for gay people.

    • Thats a bit of a stretch there.

      Anyone who takes direction from Tony Abbott was going to vote no for marriage rights anyway, I can’t see Lismore wanting to become a secluar council influencing the outcome too heavily.

      Australia will get marriage equality, no doubt, the question is when and how. Pushing for secular governing is just as important a fight, more so in some cases because if there was no religion in politics I couldn’t see how marriage equality would be such an issue.

      Congratulations to Lismore for taking up the challenge, and many thanks for seeking to find a more inclusive Australia Day.

      • Not a stretch at all. Abbott is using the widespread frustration among conservatives at actions that they don’t like. Another example is banning Christmas carols at school. The postal vote , which will be taken up by many older conservatives, will give them a wonderful opportunity to get their annoyance off their chest. Whatever the merits of the Lismore Council’s actions the timing is thoughtless and will just help the conservatives cause on gay marriage. It is dumb timing that will cost gay people support at a time when they ned all the help they can get..

        • Hi Peter

          I understand what you are saying, but in some ways it is akin to Turnbull not calling a free vote because he is worried about a conservative backlash, it is playing into the left and right trope that career politicians use to divide the nation. I feel that it is very important that we resist being hijacked by federal politics and continue to have real dialogue at a community level between all stakeholders – conservative, progressive, left, right or otherwise.

          Providing services is just a small part of the local governments role in a community. Most of the councils around here aren’t the greatest at that. But if we consider local government as a space for participatory governance where local people get to have their say then I think that our councils in this area do a fantastic job – in the true dictionary sense (marvellous; odd; remarkable; fanciful; incredibly great; highly unrealistic)!

          There will always be conflicting ideals with issues like reconciliation and religion, but at a community level hopefull we can avoid the “Us and them” paradigm and create understanding if not consensus.

          • Alstair In one of his less stupid moments Bjelke Petersen said along the lines that if you squack like a duck and fly with the ducks don’t complain about being shot down with the ducks. The local Councils choose to dabble in the politics of other States of the Commonwealth and even other Countries, and in doing so they alienate and irritate people. The real-politik is that those people now have chance to vent their irritation, so its a matter of poor judgement about the timing to raise this sort of issue and annoy their precious sensibilites. I do agree with the other writer that allowing a time of private reflection, which could open with an invitation to reflect and pay respect to the traditional owners – if that wording is ok with those people; at appropriate times of the year those who fell to protect our region; and an invitation to pray, meditate or reflect on the important work Council does for us. But let’s do it after the silly postal vote is over. Having grown up in Marvell Street I have to admire your marvelous expectations of Council, but I do think some study visits could made from at least one local Council to marvel at the road building achievements of some other local government areas.

  5. If anyone takes God out of the picture what have you got to look forward to. There is no big reward for our hard work and service here on earth. Why don’t the council stick to topics like roads. My car was damaged by the endless potholes in our area. How about the council does something about that.

    • You think that just because you believe in a god means that it’s true? How about waking up to the spectacular understanding that human beings are in charge of their own destiny.

  6. Changing the date of Australia Day to help with reconciliation with the indigenous custodians of this great land is a very important issue. As is making all institutions in society secular.

  7. I’m not from the district but such a ridiculous issue may confront mine.
    The question I would ask the members is their consideration of tradition. If we are to reconcile with the indigenous don’t we also recognise their traditions. If we welcome diversity don’t we also recognise cultural differences and tradition as some judges have.
    Why then in our pursuit of all inclusiveness, is there an undermining of our own traditions from within, that have helped so much build our multicultural national existence today?


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