Flat White

Local government needs to wake up from Woke

Graham Pinn

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Graham Pinn

29 November 2022

7:00 AM

The increasingly pervasive Woke activist agenda has escaped its confines in university and academia, and hit the mainstream.

We have airlines using their economic muscle to dictate social practice, power companies green-washing their credentials, and professional organisations like the Australian Medical Association diverting their energies to refugees and saving the planet. These activities are at variance with their respective objectives and result in a loss of share value or membership. Energy company shares have been adversely affected, and the AMA membership has fallen to a new low. The New Zealand equivalent NZMA, leading the way, has been closed due to falling membership; there are some sensible doctors!

Football clubs have also upset their players and membership by virtue signalling with flags, uniforms, and taking the knee. More bizarrely, even the military have been sucked into this miasma, and now have to conform to equity and gender training whilst being trained how to kill people. This change ‘enables organisational agility and adaptability by leveraging the attributes, experiences, cultures, characteristics, and backgrounds of the Total Force’ – I have no idea what this means, nor I suspect, do the military personnel. Who believes this will improve our ability to fight a war? Domestically, the Queensland Police have instituted an ‘Inclusion and Diversity Restorative Engagement and Cultural reform’ program, whilst crime increased 7 per cent in 2021.

Equally disturbing is the virtue signalling of public servants and local councils, who are following overseas trends. The purpose of local councils is to maintain services such as roads and signage, water and sewage, parks and sports areas, pre-school and libraries, waste disposal, community services, and urban planning; these tasks are increasingly being undermined by social engineering. Equity, diversity, and inclusion have become an increasing focus, to the detriment of these originally mandated functions, with many now employing EDI officers to ensure their programs pass the activist criteria.

We see councils paying inappropriate and egregious attention to minority demands. At considerable cost, forms and signage have to be gender neutral, toilets and changing facilities have to be re-organised, libraries have to be culled of ‘offensive books’ (shades of the Nazi book-burning); pre-school activities have to be reviewed, staff need to complete special awareness training programs, names of roads or buildings or places have to be re-evaluated, recruitment has to be ethnically diversified, instead being of merit-based. It would be bad enough if the change was restricted to their original functions, but a greater social responsibility is now deemed necessary, with more time and rate-payer money spent on irrelevant, non-local activity.

The Woke capital of the world, California, leads the way, with education a focus. School names have been changed, curricula revised to support critical race theory, entry requirements are now based on affirmative action rather than merit. These changes are supposedly based on public support, but as surveys are only circulated to activist organisations and public servants, they fail to represent the rate-payers views.

Meanwhile, school results decline while homelessness, drug addiction, and crime increase; the comparison with Republican-run non-Woke Florida is stark.

Following the US, Councils in the UK are heading down the same path. In 2021 the London City Council spent 12,000 pounds on board games to teach staff about unconscious bias. In October this year, the head of the Local Government Association issued new guidelines for all 339 English councils; they were advised to ‘embed equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion’. An initial priority was deemed the avoidance of ‘non-inclusive language’; offence-causing words to be banned included: ladies, gentlemen, homosexual, homeless, migrant, even Mum and Dad! The new approach ‘should encourage dignity and respect for the marginalised, minoritised and neurodivergent’ (I have no idea what that means either).

With a greater push to early learning, local councils are increasingly involved in what is taught; even at this early age the curricula are infiltrated with equity and respect for diversity, cultural competence, and learning about the environment. For the early learners, education, as opposed to indoctrination, seems to be little in evidence.

In Australia, since the late 70s the confected ‘welcome to country’ has become increasingly obligatory before any meeting or event, from federal to state and now Local councils. Conversely, Christianity is deemed unacceptable; Fraser Coast council is considering banning the traditional prayer at meeting openings, despite over 50 per cent of residents identifying with that religion, it claims the council should be more inclusive. Mosman city council has banned nativity scenes in its chambers this Christmas. Appointment of diversity officers have become necessary, to oversee ethnicity appointments and training. Many Australian local councils are spreading their ideology well outside their terms of reference; here are a few examples to show how the overseas pattern is being followed.

Australia Day is a prime target of cancel culture, with Darebin council in 2017 following neighbouring Yarra council in declining to hold the ceremony, opting instead for a ‘culturally appropriate event, respectful to Indigenous Australians’. The occasion was perceived as ‘representing violent colonisation and oppression’; the decision was made after a survey of 81 people. Other areas of concern for the Darebin council include climate change, LGBTQI+, independence for West Papua, and it has also banned the use of plastic utensils at council events. With all these concerns there has been little time to address issues such as roads, rates, and rubbish.

Under the pretence of Covid restrictions, several other councils in NSW and Victoria have also cancelled Australia Day and the associated citizenship ceremonies. As the pandemic recedes, some councils such as Melbourne City council, have continued this cancellation and finally admit it is politically based; that this celebration brings different ethnic communities together, is lost in their attention to only one minority group.

Cancelling has become a frequent occurrence. Batman council, named after Melbourne founder John Batman, was, against the views of the residents, in 2018 renamed Cooper, after William Cooper, an Indigenous rights campaigner. Other examples of changing the names of roads and bridges, and removing statues, appear to occur unchecked. The Hobart City council removed the statue of former Tasmanian Premier, William Crowther, on controversial grounds, ‘a small step to reconciliation’.

The progress to banning fossil-fuelled vehicles from council areas at least has some logic, albeit another impractical gesture. The Cities’ Power Partnership plans to switch council vehicles to electric, review the roll-out of charging stations and ultimately ban non-EV in their areas; there seems to be little awareness of the costs involved. My local Sunshine Coast Council has done its bit for the environment by spending $50 million to fund the first council solar farm, a farm which has recently been out of action because of flooding rain; it will apparently save $22 million over a supposed 30-year life expectancy but how long will it actually function? The mayor, has a vision his council will be the most sustainable area in Australia, more virtue signalling at rate-payer expense.

Local councils at least have some reason to become involved in proposals to mine or drill for oil and gas. Although their underlying philosophy may be about saving the planet, there are also environmental concerns about pollution and damage to water supplies. They have some, appropriate, statutory authority to regulate activities such as fracking, by rezoning, limiting access to sites, and restricting pipeline routes; this authority can always overcome by national interest.

More unhinged is the local council virtue-signalling attitude to nuclear power. Wollongong was the first to declare itself nuclear-free in 1980; since that time over 100 councils have added that designation, on grounds that it protects their residents’ health from this non-existent risk. At a national level the Local Government Association, representing Australia’s 537 councils, passed a resolution asking the federal government to sign the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; this about as far from its mandated role as is possible.

Having said that, the Clarence city council in Tasmania has declared itself a Refugee Welcome Zone. There is now a Welcoming Cities Network involving 8 other councils in ACT and Victoria, these apparently set the standards for cultural diversity and inclusion policy, with welcoming centres to be established – poor rate-payers. There is also a requirement to fund local multicultural events and community-based projects in support of refugees.

These never-ending Woke resolutions cost time and money, and contribute little for the long-suffering rate-payers. After basic service provision, there is rarely enough money to care for those in need; can, and should we allow councils to become involved in these irrelevant activities?

It is time we paid more attention to who we vote for at Local level elections; some states have compulsory voting, but in WA, SA, and Tasmania, voter turnout can be as low as one-third. The federal government is $1 trillion in debt, states $500 billion, with local government debt of $161 billion and rising. Had it not been for Woke adventurism, more money would be available to deal with the current demands of flood-rebuilding.

With big deficit budgets and even bigger ideas, we need to wake up, rather than Woke up; we need to vote to prevent these activists from sending us Woke and broke.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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