Editorial: Fine…send me in!

Filed in Recent News by November 3, 2021

WHILE reporting on the Mayor ordering a hunt on Council staff who were acting in the best interests of the residents and trying to hold Councillors and other staff to account, I reached my “enough” point.

I am sick of writing about the appalling behaviours of Council, sick of witnessing it and having so many members of the community speak to me in confidence about the sickening treatment they have been subjected to by this Council.

Over five years it has not become better, in fact I’ve only seen it become worse. I had hoped an administrator would be appointed to Council and they would put a broom through the place, but that hasn’t happened.

So, I’ve decided to grab a broom myself. If I have upset a poorly performing Council from outside tent, imagine what I can do from inside the tent! I am running for Council.

If residents want Council cleaned up, I’ve got the broom and you can now elect to send me inside the tent. 

However, there is a word of caution: If I am to achieve anything, I can’t do it as one person. There are nine people on Council and to achieve any change we will need at least five like-minded people to vote to pass the motions we need to clean up Council.

To break up the old majority, we will need new blood and from the people who have nominated so far, I will also need the following people to be on Council with me: Patricia Taylor, Tayah Clout, Belinda McKenzie, Sue Abbott and Lee Watts.

We are not running as a group, we are running as individuals, but we all want Council cleaned up and accountable to the residents and ratepayers they are meant to serve.

What this means for scone.com.au

During Covid it has been very difficult generating advertising revenue as businesses don’t know from one week to the next if they will be open and it will take them a while to get back on their feet. We’ve also been publishing most of our covid articles as open access, as we felt it was important for people to be informed and that has impacted on subscriptions. It will possibly take another 12 months to be profitable again and I was prepared to work until it was because I am passionate about town-based news and public interest journalism, but I have been weighing my options.

The state and federal governments are still paying ACM and NewsCorp to advertise in publications in regional Australia, which no longer even exist. The government gives ad revenue to media advertising agencies, which have a close relationship with ACM and NewsCorp and continue to direct the government’s money to them for publications they no longer produce or staff. There are plenty of politicians who are aware of this and are trying to change the system, but until that happens, independent media who are actually operating and employing journalists can’t get any government advertising. It is in the order of $3,000 to $4,000 per week, which is significant for small publications. There are people working to fix this, but realistically that may also take a year or two to fix.  

People had spoken to me about running for Council, but I had not been interested and was still deciding if I could keep scone.com.au going in the short term. It would also be a conflict if I was a Councillor and reporting on Council. But after learning of Mayor Collison’s leak-hunt on Council staff, it made my decision. I will run for Council and if I become a Councillor I will temporarily down tools on scone.com.au at the end of December. I may still do the court report each month and I am still working out the finer details of what that would look like. All subscribers will be contacted directly before the end of December with options for refunds, or if they would like an alternate subscription to the court report.

And if I do become a Councillor, I won’t stop writing about Council, I will have a personal page (www.elizabethflaherty.com.au) where I will write about Council, from my perspective as a Councillor. I will still write about what Council are spending our money on, what motions they are passing and how they are behaving….it will just be from inside the tent.

So I am completely in the hands of the readers, residents and ratepayers. It is completely your decision if you want to send me into the tent to clean up Council. 

 

 

Elizabeth Flaherty
Editor, scone.com.au

 

 

 

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