Republic of Moreland

February 6, 2007

Is Moreland Council wrong to support Hicks?

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,politics — Kath @ 6:19 pm

Moreland Councillor Cr John Kavanagh (pictured) says the Moreland City Council is wasting ratepayers’ money by supporting the David Hicks campaign in its advertising, according to The Moreland Leader. Today’s report says:

Cr John Kavanagh made his feelings known at last week’s council meeting as a result of political statements made in the council’s regular advertisements in the Leader. Last week’s advertisement featured the words “Jeff Kennett is right bring David Hicks home now”. This followed a January 15 full-page ad headed with“Dear PM David Hicks has spent five years in jail. No charges, no trial. Where’s the justice?”

Cr John Kavanagh said the council should stop using its weekly advertisements to push its view that Hicks should be returned to Australia. He said the council should focus on “roads, rates and rubbish”.

“David Hicks is not city news. These ads cost money. We should be using them to publish the opening times of pools, for example,” he said. Cr Kavanagh, who described some Moreland councillors as “frustrated, wanna-be parliamentarians”, added: “Personally, I think David Hicks is being treated badly, but this isn’t a council issue.”

If you look at the ads, the political statements take up much less space than other council issues. Still, you can sympathise with Kavanagh’s point. After all, I’d hate to see a council advertise in support of, say, the Iraq War or the climate change denial campaign.

But Mayor Mark O’Brien reportedly said his council’s Hicks media campaign was legitimate because “it makes clear a council-held view”.

Uh-uh. We vote in a council not just for their views, but for their capacity to represent ours. And the Hicks campaign is very close to home:

(1) It has sinister parallels with the cases of the young Moreland men who are right now suffering what Civil Rights Defence describe as Guantanomo-style conditions at Barwon prison (see ‘Locking up our neighbours‘ on this site). Like Hicks, these Morelanders should be speedily tried, but by the time their cases go to court, they will have been shackled, largely in isolation for two years, with only one non-contact a week through thick glass. This is just not humane.

(2) Many of those running the Melbourne Hicks campaign are Morelanders.

(3) The Hicks case has strong local support (witness the turnout at Last Friday’s Hicks dinner).

(4) In light of the “think local, act global” view, I’d like to remind Cr Kavanagh of ‘First They Came’ poem:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

This is where I agree with the mayor’s view that:

“If it seems the freedom of everyday citizens is being eroded, then even local governments have an obligation to stand up for justice.”



  1. Moreland voters put a Labor and Greens council in power. This gives them a mandate to express Labor and Greens views. I for one am happy for my rates to be spent on something important, for a change. Better that than the silly steles you’ve discussed on this site.

    Comment by Neighbourhood Pervert — February 6, 2007 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  2. Like Girl I can see the councillor’s point, and like her I do wonder if I’d object to it if the messages were not consistent with my own views. Let’s not forget too that the majority of Australians now want justice for Hicks. That’s not necessarily an argument, though, as the majority of Australians probably thought children had been thrown overboard, too. Councillor Kavanagh points out that he thinks Hicks has been mistreated, so his issue is purely one of council expenditure on appropriate things. But Moreland residents are probably even more likely than the nation as a whole to support bringing Hicks home, so I also agree that at last one tier of government is taking a meaningful stand on this.

    Comment by Chloe — February 6, 2007 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  3. I’ve just been considering your comment, pervert. A banner within an existing ad in a suburban rag costs very little. Compare and contrast with how much those useless steles must have cost. The consulting, the committees, the design, the engineering, the surveying, the materials, the graphics and printing (they’re each custom-made), the installation: they must’ve amounted to at least 2 grand each. How many of them are there? Probably 20 around Moreland – I don’t know. Maybe more. 40 grand at least. And for what? To tell people what they already know?

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — February 8, 2007 @ 9:43 am | Reply

  4. Damn straight, GoTA. Those steles are a lurk on a truly Iraqi scale. What use is it declaring the obvious in this fashion when the streets mentioned are clogged with litter, for example? Priorities, folks!

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — February 8, 2007 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  5. The council will waste time and money on trying to make itself look more important anre relevant than it actually is, yet wont support local community groups who volunteer their time for the community. How about the council atually concentrate on its local citizens and what it can do to help them, rather than international issues it has no relevance in, and cant help at all?
    I am all for protests etc, but dont waste money and then deny it to the local community for projects and items that directly help the local community.

    Comment by Local — March 3, 2008 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

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