Thursday, October 21, 2004

Miranda flays Clover

The right continues its campaign to undermine city councillors with a tirade from Miranda Devine in today's SMH (click the headline to see it).

Long on rhetoric but very short on substance, Devine shows either gross insincerity or apalling research skills by trotting out the old line that Clover Moore is inconsistent because she opposed the destruction of the Domain figs trees but approved the removal of those in Hyde Park.

I have pictures of the trunks of both sets of trees, taken in cross-section after they were cut down. The Hyde Park trees are rotten from the core, and Miranda Devine could have ascertained this fact just by walking up to the park and looking at those sections left behind to prove the point. The Domain trees were relatively healthy and posed little danger to the public, and the Botanic Gardens Trust had reports to this effect. Widely available press releases from Clover's camp clearly debunk this and other furphys, but Devine fails to quote any of this information. She also fails to mention that councillors were not even informed by staff of the impending chop until the day before.

Devine goes on to praise Robert Domm and Frank Sartor at Clover's expense, then quotes Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard who jokes about Clover pulling out the 'blame the bureaucracy' card from one of three envelopes.

But Mallard then goes on to say that Clover 'is locked into a cultural battle between a well-oiled "autocratic, centralised" council bureaucracy and a new community-minded council. "We demand a different type of council to the CBD, big-end-of-town council it was."

You can't have it both ways, Shayne, assuming you have been quoted correctly.

Devine's criticism boils down to an assumption that an autocratic undemocratic council is the only acceptable kind, and that a council which listens to the community cannot work. This is rubbish.

She goes on to typify community activists as people who 'oppose change of any sort'. This is also rubbish.

What about those activists, Miranda, who CALL FOR changes such as the reform of an autocratic staff culture which is actively undermining the ironclad mandate of an elected council? That is a far greater wrong than listening to the community, but it mysteriously doesn't bother Miranda and her right-wing colleagues. They are democrats only when it suits them.

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