Why John So is your bro The perils of a direct election

The Age has published an article proposing the question “Why is John So my Bro“?

IN it the writer makes some connection to London’s new Lord Mayor and then goes on to expose some of the myths and weakness of Johns So’s tenure.

This pop star image and brunt of a joke that John so well responds to is a by product of the Direct election system. A system that sees a populist politicians with no substance elected as Mayor of our capital city.

The question needs to be asked who supported the direct election model. The changes were brought in by Bob Cameron, the minister of Local government back in 2000. Bob Cameron did not last long as minister and was soon replaced by Candy Broad, a lack l;aster Minister. The review undertaken in 2000- was held in secret, submissions, unlike Municipal reviews undertaken today, where never published and the public had no opportunity to scrutinies or respond to the proposal for direct elections. Instead of being independent from the municipal process the review was made by the Department/Ministers office.

Last Year a number of Councillors recommend that the State Government City of Melbourne initiate a review of Melbourne representative model and that the City of Melbourne should be subjected to the same review process as all other Municipal Council in Victoria. Under the Local Government Act every municipality (except the City of Melbourne) is required to undertake a representation review every technical term of office. If these requirements applied to the City of Melbourne then a review should have been undertaken last year.

The proposal for a review was put forward and voted down by John So and his team 5-4 as John took the do nothing approach. The City Councillors whop initiate the idea of the review did nothing to further the issue and the State Government failed to take up the initiative.

Some Councillors are now trying to make a bit of noise about the need for a review before the next Municipal election due in November, but unless there is the political will there is a snow flake chance in hell that any meaningful review will take place.

Dick Wynne, former Council elected Lord Mayor and now Minister for Local Government has shied away from reviewing the monster that his predecessors created and allowed to exists. Dick more then any other Minister knows the short comings of the direct election model.

The So genie is out of its bottle and it may be hard if not impossible to put it back. The direct election model has failed to deliver good governance and more importantly the person elected Mayor is not held accountable as he/she is not elected and as such not accountable to the Council itself. Under the Council appointed system the City Councillors provided a day to day accountability. Under the direct election system the only accountability comes from the media and once every four years when the public focuses its attention on the would be star Lord Mayor and votes for who is the most likable.

The fact that the City finances are in worst shape then ever and that the design me a job city continues to milk the ratepayers for every cent and dollar possible has little to no bearing on the voters choice. many who live outside the city itself, the overseas property investor.

Melbourne Council most certainly needs review and the direct election model should cancelled. Council must be given more power and say to hold the Lord Mayor accountable.

In the end the failure of the City Council is a failure of the State Government to act.

One of the problems that inhibit the City Council is the restriction that the Load Mayor is also the Chairman of the Council, an oversight and left over from the days of a Council appointed Mayor.

The fact that John So has little skill and more often then not does not chair Council meetings is of concern.

If Dick Wynne and the State Governments are unwilling to subject the City of Melbourne to a proper and comprohensive open public review then the lest they should do is to separate the position of Lord Mayor and Chairman so that the Chairman can be appointed from and by the City Council. Such a move would provide the necessary day to day checks and balance required to restore good governance and financial management to the City.