Commotion at the Onkaparinga Council Meeting of 17 January 2023
On this night I went with one other person to make a Deputation in the Council Chambers against a motion aiming to ‘Declare a Climate Emergency in Onkaparinga’.
In the motion there was no definition of what an emergency is or what they would be permitted if one were declared or any prescribed way to determine when an emergency had ended. Those ambiguities could lead to all sorts of abuses.
Many people fear that if a branch of government is allowed to declare another emergency, like we all experienced during the COVID debacle when the state was locked down, then more people will suffer ruined businesses and ruined lives. People need to realise that the climate always changes so if a Climate Change Emergency is declared how is it possible to identify when the emergency ends? Definitions become far too subjective so potentially an emergency would be never-ending.
It will affect everyone. Travel could be a thing of the past and your ability to buy and sell will be impacted far more than you think, if the experience from overseas is anything to go by.
Here is the Advertiser’s slant on events:
Onkaparinga Council staff fear for safety as protesters crash meeting _ The Advertiser, 18-1-2023
But the point of this article is that at this meeting I sat in Council Chambers with another concerned rate payer waiting for our turn to speak and all of our supporters where sitting in the over flow room hoping to hear the proceedings on the TV audio system.
Perhaps after about 15 minutes we could hear shouting but it took, what seemed like, forever to find out what was wrong. There was a security guard at the door and no one was getting past. We were all ‘safe’ locked inside.
Only after a considerable delay someone (I’m told it was either a Police officer or another Council security officer, but someone in uniform) came into the Council Chamber and called out to those in charge saying there was no sound and no one could hear the meeting, can someone fix the technology.
Mayor Moira Were replied, and these are her exact words taken from the video of the proceedings, “Thank you so much. I appreciate your point of view, I think we have all got all the tech that we need”.
I found this response from the Mayor to be disgraceful. Could the Mayor be so ill prepared or ignorant of dealing with groups; surely not. It was such a crazy irrational response many were lead to believe it was a deliberate provocation.
Things obviously didn’t go well and people out there thought they were being played like fools because the audio system was set at its lowest level and locked. See my attached photo. No one wanted to help or even tell the rate payers what was wrong, and so it escalated. The meeting was adjourned but everyone stood around in Chambers just waiting.
Police were called. Up to 25 attended with a crowd they estimated at 150 to 200 people. Some people got unruly. Police were force to run communications between angry rate payers and a Mayor who would not communicate with them. It was a ridiculous situation that could have so easily been avoided.
In general I thought police were good in these trying circumstances.
Everyone still waited around for a long time even after the meeting ended because the Mayor would not formally declare an adjournment. They feared the meeting might be started again and without the two of us to speak the motion would be passed uncontested. It took possibly up to 45 minutes after the meeting ende to get the formal adjournment. During this time people did get noticeably sick of it all.
The Mayor could have ended the whole incident very quickly by formally adjourning the meeting quickly.
This makes a joke out of her campaign promises of listening to the community, of transparency and of facilitating greater community participation in decision-making.
People were angry at what they saw as a deliberate act of sabotage to the meeting by the Council.
They did not attend as protesters. They only began to protest once the audio was sabotaged and the Mayor refused to speak to them.
It could have all been avoided so simply.
I didn’t get a chance to address the Council against this disastrous Climate Change Emergency so we had to try again.
The Advertiser’s reporting cask their usual litany of exaggerations with a big dash of poetic license, to say the least. The concept of ‘truth in reporting’ is completely foreign to them.
And so we began to hear of the ‘Storming of the Council Meeting’ comparing it to the storming of the US Capitol in Washington DC on 6 January 2021
My response is at least when you are maligned, misquoted and outright slandered then you know you are probably on the right track.