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20 November 2019
If spirited community debate over long-term planning for Horsham has told us anything, it is that democracy is alive and well in the Wimmera.
Public passion and opinion surrounding how the regional centre should evolve to meet future needs also consolidates a long-held belief that local governance remains at the forefront of country Victorian society.
Local government is the closest form of government to the people, especially in the regions, which means it is also one of the most important and one of the most challenging to get right.
The nature of this level of governance, where councillors, council officers and staff share the same municipal services and, every day, rub shoulders with people they represent, also means there are high levels of accessibility and accountability.
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This closeness, accompanied by the inevitable bubbling cauldron of community passions, opinions and perceptions, means a high degree of overall community solidarity is essential for progress to occur.
If the overall good of a municipality and its people is the driving force behind all sides of a debate, the right result will ultimately surface.
This doesn’t mean anyone has to give up hard-fought positions or be forced to take a softly-softly or emotionless approach about issues of which they are passionate.
But what it does demand is good manners and protocol in presenting arguments or responses and everyone having unwavering respect for all involved. This includes everyone from the average person and elected representatives to the highest ranking official or bureaucrat.
Establishing high standards in decorum and process, free from unhelpful name-calling, personal accusations and overt rhetoric allows the democratic process to operate.
Everything in democratic governance comes back to representation and ultimately it is voters who have the final say.
The entire November 20, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!