23 Australia Day to stay
MOST of Victoria’s mayors don’t believe the date of Australia Day should change, nor should European settler monuments be altered, according to a Sunday Herald Sun survey.
Mayors also broadly supported same-sex marriage, but surprisingly a few said the state government’s rate cap should stay because it forced economic discipline on councils.
All mayors were asked their views on Australia Day, monuments, mayoral cars, same-sex marriage and the rate cap.
None of the respondents was prepared to follow three Melbourne inner-city councils — Yarra, Darebin and Moreland — to no longer mark Australia Day on January 26.
Many mayors said it was a matter that councils had no jurisdiction over and many had affirmed support for January 26 as the national day.
Kingston mayor David Eden said it was a matter to be determined at a national level.
“It’s not an issue that my local community has come forward with a strong view on one particular way or another,’’ Mr Eden said.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was another opposed to changing the date.
“Anyone who comes to the City of Melbourne’s Australia Day parade will see the glue that holds us together, culturally and socially,’’ he said.
Likewise, most felt it best to leave monuments that mark settler heritage, although some were open to amending the words. Hindmarsh Shire mayor Debra Nelson was in favour of keeping monuments.
“But where they contain information that has been proven not to be factual, this should be corrected with perhaps additional text rather than a whole new monument,” Ms Nelson said.
Most councils have railed against the rate cap of 2 per cent a year since it was introduced in 2015.
Ararat mayor Paul Hooper said the cap should be lifted for councils in growth, regional and small rural areas. But South Gippsland mayor Ray Argento said it should stay.
“Rate capping makes councils more efficient and enables us to live within our means,’’ he said.
Many mayors still have use of a car, especially in larger rural shires, and of those who don’t, most claim expenses for using their own vehicle.
East Gippsland mayor Joe Rettino has a council Camry to cover his large municipality of 21,000 sqm, which is 10 per cent of Victoria.
“All councillors cover vast distances to engage with their constituents, from the High Country to Mallacoota,’’ Mr Rettino said.