Stand up and be accountable

I really admire people who have the courage to stand up for their convictions, particularly when they know it’s going to be unpopular.

Every single Lismore Councillor stated unequivocally their position about the proposed rate rise at the extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night, to the extent that a number of councillors said on the record that they were prepared to wear the community’s ire even if it meant losing their place at the next election.

It’s not easy being a councillor; you’re available, visible and accessible to the public pretty much the whole time; there’s several forests’ worth of reading to get through every week and you cop the flak for pretty much everything the community is annoyed by. And, if the response of people at the recent forums about the rate rise is anything to go by, then our community is annoyed by pretty much everything.

As much as I admire those who have the courage to stand up and say what they believe, I have an equal amount of disdain for those who would criticise under a cloak of anonymity. We won’t publish anonymous letters in The Echo except in circumstances where the writer has genuine concerns about revealing their identity that would compromise their safety or position.

Those people who used the council ‘have your say’ discussion board as a vehicle to vent vitriolic criticism and make abusive remarks should be ashamed. If you’ve got something to add to the debate, well and good – the community has an absolute right to let their elected representatives know what they expect of them. But there’s a massive difference between being critical of a decision or person and being abusive.

The internet is a wonderful tool and I can’t imagine trying to do my job without it (all that pesky looking through past hard copies to make sure stories are accurate) but one of the downfalls is that people are able to write things without a period of reflection. It’s easy to bang off an angry response in the heat of the moment but once something is out in cyberspace it’s in the public sphere forever.

Congratulations to all councillors for stating publicly how they felt about an issue that was extremely emotive for many – that’s showing leadership.


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