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Election signs ban trashes democratic tradition

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 4, 2012

Election signs are a sign that democracy is at work and there is an election in place.

Signs enable parties that aren’t supported by mining billionaires, like the sitting Noosa LNP member, Hon. Glen Elmes, to have a chance at getting their message out. The LNP is supported by mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Greens are supported by small  donations from individuals.

Candidate signage is an Australian and international democratic tradition found in every Western liberal democracy. However, Glen Elmes is prepared to support his mates on the Sunshine Coast Regional Council trashing an Australian electioneering  tradition and almost certainly breaching the Local Government Act.

The Council has announced that it will limit signs in Noosa to two for each candidate.

This limitation to two signs is disrespectful of the democratic political process. Mr Elmes runs the facile visual pollution argument, and rests his case on having both won and lost elections in the absence of signage. That reasoning is irrelevant to the matter of democratic principle. Indeed, I would argue that he presents the spectacle of an elected member of Parliament supporting the Council in breaking the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009. The Act expressly prevents the Council from prohibiting signs. While the Council limits two signs to a candidate, the Council prohibits any other signs. In my view the Council is breaking the law by putting any number on election signs.

Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act 2009 states, without any caveat, that “A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.” What is clearer than that?

That provision leaves it open to regulation about placement but not limiting the number and certainly not insulting the intelligence of the voters and the candidates who put themselves forward for public office. If the Sunshine Coast Regional Council wants some consistency about placement, then it ought to consult the reasonable guidelines issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Mr Elmes’s support of the two sign announcement is another example of the LNP having lost any sense of a fair go and why his party is no better than the State Labor Government which ran roughshod over the Noosa Shire. The Greens stand much closer to the great Australian social justice traditions than either party, both of which have lost their way.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate,
Noosa Electoral District


Greens candidate says Noosa ban on election posters is anti-democratic

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 29, 2012

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s ban on effective poster advertising in Noosa is an attack on election democracy according to the Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald.

He was responding to the report in the Noosa News on Tuesday, 28 February that candidates in Noosa will be allowed only two posters.

“Some limitations are reasonable but the approach in Noosa is unsophisticated, cunning and over the top. It actively assists the sitting candidate in elections because new candidates’ faces are usually less well known in the electorate.

“The two poster limit is an effective ban on public political advertising during a campaign.

“It’s a backwoods strategy more at home in local government in the Appalachians in Alabama and is at odds with Australia’s democratic system.”

Dr McDonald said he believes that the Council is breaching the Act. “I believe that local government can regulate issues like placement, but not effectively ban, candidates’ advertising.

“Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act states that ‘A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.’

“That prohibition does not allow for the Noosa bans imposed on campaigning for the State election. The term “prohibition” in its ordinary meaning applies. And the Council is hindering and preventing candidates in Noosa from campaigning using posters and
election signs.

“I would go as far as to say that limiting the number of signs in an electorate also breaches the Act.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads have a set of reasonable limitations on election posters on road reserves and there is prohibition on motorways. The Department’s guide addresses safety issues on all roads.

“Even if the limitation on numbers is legal, the Regional Council’s bans on Noosa candidates are inequitable because candidates whose electorates were in other shires within the Sunshine Coast allow for greater numbers.

“Cr Green is quoted as saying that the ‘Noosa community was offended by election signage’. How can he know that? And which community is he talking about: Noosa in the 1970s or Noosa in 2012?

“People in Noosa have a right, and it is a responsibility of citizenship, to know who their candidates are and temporary election signage is a significant source of knowledge about candidates in Western democracy and the Australian political tradition.”

Jim McDonald, Noosa Greens Candidate, Media Release 29 February 2012

Greens commit to referendum for local government

Posted by Steve on June 18, 2010

The Australian Greens will move for an amendment to section 96 of the Constitution – the section which sets out that the Commonwealth may grant financial assistance to the states on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit – to add the words ‘and local government’.

Addressing the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly today Senator Brown said that recognising local government in the Constitution is ALP policy and was a promise made by Mr. Rudd in the 2007 election campaign.

“But there’s been no action,” said Senator Brown.

“At the start of the next period of Government, the Greens will present a bill to the Senate for this referendum.

“Previous attempts, in 1974 and 1988, to have the status of local government recognised through a referendum failed because of the confusing nature of the questions put to the Australian voters.”

Jim McDonald – Your Greens Candidate for Wide Bay

Posted by Steve on March 15, 2010

Jim McDonald

Dr Jim McDonald is your Greens candidate for Wide Bay.

Jim has lived in Noosa for 14 years . He was married for almost 34 years and is now widowed. He has a son and two granddaughters who live in Europe. Jim is involved in a number of community organisations, and is also active in the cultural life of the Sunshine Coast, singing in local choirs, writing plays, and acting in theatre companies.

Jim spent much of his working life representing employees on two Victorian teachers’ union councils, working as a full-time union official in the 1980s, and elected by academic staff to his university’s Council. At university, he taught industrial relations and negotiation. His area of specialisation was research on management in small and medium sized businesses. After retiring he ran a free industrial relations policy website, used throughout Australia by students, academics, unions and business.

In 2003 Jim stood for Noosa Council on an environmental platform, supporting the population cap.

Jim is especially interested in Federal policies about our health and education for our children, industrial relations, climate change, the protection of prime food production areas such as the Mary Valley and South Burnett, regional arts and culture policy, seniors’ issues, and the provision of efficient local public transport and rapid transit rail to Brisbane.

Jim decided to stand for Wide Bay because “My strongest political belief is that individuals can make a difference. It’s what democracy is about. That’s why I spent so much of my life working for a fair go. I would also like to give something back to my community.”

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We would love to hear from you, what you consider our priorities should be to ensure our community remains special and sustainable. Please feel welcome to contact our Convenor Steve Haines directly at steve@noosagreens.org or mobile 0421 00 1956.

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