Tweed Shire Council will hold a special general meeting this evening following an attempt by the shire’s three conservative councillors to derail its support for the YES vote in the marriage equality debate.
The mayoral motion was carried at a full meeting of council just a week ago, giving the conservatives little likelihood of changing the council’s position and leading deputy mayor Reece Byrnes (ALP) to describe the move as ‘grandstanding’.
Under the policy, council agreed erect a rainbow flag or banners outside the Tweed and Murwillumbah council chambers for the duration of the controversial postal survey in a move similar to that pioneered by Lismore City Council.
Cr Milne’s motion also proposed that council promotes its position on the issue through the media and social networking and holds at least one councillor-led public function to promote the YES vote.
Waste of time
Instead councillors will be dragged back to council’s Murwillumbah chambers from 4.30pm tonight to hear just two speakers from either side of the debate and then vote again on the motion it has already carried.
The rescission motion was signed by minority conservative councillors Pryce Allsop, James Owen and Warren Polglase.
Cr Byrnes told Echonetdaily there was little-to-no chance of the rescission motion succeeding.
‘It is, I think, a bit of a waste of time. Those councillors should get on board with the YES campaign. It’s so important for young people in particular, who may be confused or in a very bad situation in terms of understanding their sexuality – and I think the community needs to be behind them,’ he said.
‘It’s sad that we even have to have this debate in the first place when it could have been decided in parliament.
‘And it’s unfortunate we have to be dragged back to a meeting when, as an organisation we should be supporting this campaign wholeheartedly,’ he said.
Mayor Katie Milne (Greens) told Echonetdaily that proponent Warren Polglase had broken with his own often-expressed view that ‘a rescission motion shouldn’t be put unless there is new information’.
‘We haven’t had any new information on this so I don’t believe there is really any valid reason for this rescission motion,’ she said.
‘I haven’t heard that there is going to be change in councilllors’ voting patterns so I don’t believe it will get up,’ she added.
Cr Milne said she believed the motion was a delaying tactic.
‘It prevents us getting those activities for supporting the community happening until further down the track.’
She said once today’s meeting was out of the way, the council would proceed to organise a community event in support of the YES campaign.
‘We haven’t exactly nutted out what that’s going to be yet, something low key – maybe a film screening or a picnic in the park,’ she said.
Cr Milne has also taken exception to the conservatives’ argument that council shouldn’t be advocating on such an issue.
‘We advocate on a whole lot of social justice issues in council. We advocated against domestic violence, and in fact it was a conservative councillor who put up the motion that council support domestic violence causes. There was no consultation, there was no query or question about whether we should be advocating on that aspect – it’s just a bit of red herring, really, to say that it’s not in our role. It’s clearly in our role as leaders in the community,’ she said.
Cr Byrnes added, ‘I thought it was important that the council take a stance as an organisation, just as other organisations such as Qantas, has taken a stance in support of the marriage equality campaign.’