Grassroots 2

AUGUST 2020


From the Editor

 

Welcome to Grassroots Edition 2!

Feedback from the first edition of Grassroots has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you from the Grassroots Team! 

Many readers have commended the Grassroots Team for their initiative in establishing the newsletter as a genuine forum for discourse among Liberal Party members. Party members see this as particularly important and especially so during COVID-19 restrictions.

Thank you to readers who have submitted articles. Unfortunately, we have not been able to publish all the articles received due to space limitations.

Thank you to readers who have submitted letters to the editor. This section is very important as it provides for Member voice. Again, unfortunately, we have not been able to publish all the letters received this time. 
 
Please continue to submit articles for publication and letters to the editor. Email: editor@grengagement.com.

We find ourselves in unprecedented times in Victoria where we are locked down under stage 4 restrictions. Not only is our state locked down, but our Victorian Division of the Liberal Party is too; unable to find a means to conduct State Assembly, State Council and the AGM. Again, Grassroots provides a ready forum for Member engagement. 

Huge congratulations to the Liberal Party Local Government Council team including Cynthia Watson, President; Andrew Bond; Denise Massoud and Asher Judah on the amazing work undertaken to date, including training 120+ Future Councillors! Nothing like this has ever been achieved by the Victorian Division before!  

Some readers have suggested that in addition to publishing the newsletter, Grassroots may be ideally suited to conduct events. Under current COVID-19 restrictions, we would be limited to Zoom events. We would welcome your feedback. 

Please feel free to email on Grassroots to friends. 

Editor

Keeping Australia Safe

by The Hon. Jason Wood MP
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs
Member for La Trobe

As the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, I remain committed to helping to protect the Australian community from COVID-19.

As it currently stands, only Australian citizens, permanent residents, their immediate family members or New Zealand citizens usually living in Australia can fly into Australia.

Other travellers who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia will need an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner.

Travellers can apply for an exemption on the Department of Home Affairs website.

When arriving at one of Australia’s airports, travellers will undergo checks, and will be told about the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. All overseas travellers must go into quarantine, unless provided an exemption by local State and Territory health authorities.

While the ABF may be processing less travellers at our border, its work hasn’t stopped. Our officers are stopping illegal drugs and weapons.

We now have more officers searching for illegal items being sent through our mail centres and cargo facilities.

This year the ABF has made more than 7000 detections of major drugs at the border, more than 18,000 detections of weapons, and more than 800 detections of firearms and firearms parts.

The Morrison Government continues to work closely with its state and territory counterparts to finalise the arrangements for the permanent national firearms amnesty. A permanent national amnesty will reduce the number of unregistered firearms in the community and help keep Australians safe.

The Government is also leading work to provide a national lifecycle of registered firearms in Australia, from import or manufacture through to their export or destruction. This lifecycle view will make it harder for criminals who intend to trade in illicit firearms. At the same time, we are streamlining import and export requirements for firearms, to support those who have a genuine need for such weapons, such as police and law enforcement.

These changes build on Australia’s strong approach to control firearms in the community, first introduced under the Howard Government and which I’m proud to have continued with my recent import ban on bump stocks.

Together, the Morrison Government is committed to keeping every Australian safe.

Calls for government support for the Colac community have gone unanswered


by Richard Riordan MP
Member for Polwarth

The western Victorian community of Colac has, as its greatest strengths, resilience and connectedness.

In this past week of great adversity and challenge, when Colac went from zero to 26 cases of COVID-19 in five days, we have seen a community swing into action, hampered only by the government and its agencies that appear more concerned with its agendas than the welfare of people.

I have watched proudly as the local businesses, health service, media outlets, schools, families and individuals have come together to fight this outbreak with all the capacity and capability of a much larger and well-resourced city.

As the state Member for Polwarth, I am constantly impressed with the way the locals have adhered to testing, social distancing, hygiene and isolation requirements but also feel a sense of frustration that we are left to work through this crisis on our own.

Sadly, the much-needed support from the Andrews Government has been lacking to a point that any attempts to seek information and direction have gone unanswered, leaving the community to deal with the challenges that this concerning rise in positive test results has brought into everyone’s lives.

The lack of immediate contact tracing by the department has endangered lives and put enormous stress on individuals and families, who are left wondering how they could have been so let down by the state government that is supposed to be guiding the response to the pandemic.

I have looked on in dismay each day this past week as the Premier and his Chief Health Officer repeatedly told the media there are adequate resources for contact tracing and testing in regional Victoria. Currently we have thousands of residents in Colac who are in lockdown and unable to access supplies while they wait for their test results and for the start of contact tracing. There have been instances of people not being contacted within 24 hours.

Nothing seems to have been learnt in Victoria. No lessons learnt from Cedar Meats. No lessons learnt from hotel quarantine.

And now no lessons will be learnt from the crisis in Colac.

Leaders in this community are stepping up but are being hampered by the lack of information and clear messaging from a government that has lost control. Regardless of what Daniel Andrews says in his daily musings, Colac has not been given the support and guidance it needs.

Our community is setting the standard for best-practice COVID-19 response and is putting DHHS and the government to shame.

Richard Riordan MP speaks to Peta Credlin on Sky News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3Q91pzo2HM

Local Government Elections 2020

by Cr Andrew Bond
City of Port Phillip

The Victorian Liberal Local Government Council (LGC) was formed in 2018 out of an Administrative Committee convened Local Government taskforce. Every Liberal Councillor in the State was invited to participate. We elected a Committee and sought advice from the Party’s Constitutional Committee on the process to follow in order to be recognised within the Liberal Party Constitution. We followed that advice to the letter, and in May 2019, the Liberal State Council voted overwhelmingly to recognise the Local Government Council in Section 12A of the Party’s Constitution. 

The LGC has met regularly with the current Shadow Local Government Minister, Tim Smith MP, and before that David Morris MP when he held the role. We believe in the concept of vertical integration – that the Liberal Party functions best when elected Federal, State and Local Government representatives work together to achieve shared goals and outcomes for the community. 

The LGC developed a plan – LG2020 – and set itself a goal: 120 in 2020. Our aim is to have 120 members of the Liberal Party elected to Local Government in Victoria at the October 2020 Local Government Elections. This represents just 20% of all Councillors in Victoria, but up from the 9% of Councillors elected being Liberals in the October 2016 Local Government elections. 

The LGC developed its own Local Government training program – titled ‘Future Councillors’ – and invited the entire Party membership to attend our training sessions if they were interested in Local Government. We have held approximately 10 training sessions, both in person and more recently online, with over 160 party members attending and participating. 

The LGC has advertised these ‘Future Councillors’ training sessions, and our other LGC events via In the Loop, via Facebook and through emails to Electoral Conference Chairs across the State. Not one Party member has ever been turned away from our sessions. 

The LGC’s ‘Future Councillors’ training program aimed to give participants an insight into the role and functions of a Councillor, to provide information on what Councillors can and cannot do, but primarily and most importantly, to encourage Liberal Party members to run for Local Government, and to give them the confidence to run their own campaigns locally. 

The Local Government Council has set up a Facebook page for all prospective candidates and current Liberal Councillors, for the purpose of having advice and guidance provided to first time candidates from many of our Parties more experienced Local Government Councillors and campaigners. 

We have provided candidates with contact details for graphics designers and Liberal friendly printers, and provided election material templates. We have set up the Letterbox Army, in order to connect candidates with material requiring distribution, to party members willing to volunteer a few hours of their time to letterbox this material to their local community. 

It is the expectation of the LGC that between 180-200 members of the Liberal Party will nominate to stand, or re-stand, at the Local Government elections in October 2020. 

Yet, with just weeks remaining until the close of nominations for the 2020 Local Government Elections, the Administrative Committee has released the Terms of Reference and requested expressions of interest for the yet to be formed Local Government Committee. These Terms of Reference are as follows. 

The roles and functions of the Committee are to 

a. promote the opportunities and benefits of Party members serving in local government and 

b. provide advice, guidance, training, templates and similar material for Party members interested in seeking election to local government. 

The Local Government Council has been performing each and every one of these roles and functions, as well as many more, for over 12 months now. The Local Government Council has reached the point in its LG2020 plan where activity is to be de-centralised, and state-wide programs give way to local, on the ground campaigns. Now is the time for candidates take control of their own activity locally. The last thing a candidate needs right now are distractions from members of a newly formed Local Government Committee playing catch up with the 150-200 individual Council campaigns currently occurring throughout the State. 

At a time when the Liberal Party’s attention should be on fighting the endorsed Greens and ALP candidates in municipalities across the State, the Administrative Committee should be asking those that have spent the last 12 months building up a local government campaign ‘How can we help?’, not pushing them aside and forming another committee. 

At the start of July 2020 the Liberal Party launched the Strategy Plan 2020-22. A plan that is to guide everything the Party undertakes for the next two years in the lead up to the 2022 State Election, but a plan that did not contain the words “Local Government” or “Councillor” once in its 36 pages. 

Three weeks after the launch of the Strategy Plan 2020-22, the Administrative Committee passed the motion to form the Local Government Committee, without any prior consultation with members of the Local Government Council. 

Whilst it is pleasing to see the Administrative Committee finally acknowledge Local Government after omitting it from the Strategy Plan 2020-22, working with the existing Local Government Council would have been the best path forward. 

But this is an issue for discussion on a future occasion, as right now I have a Local Government re-election campaign to run.

Western Victoria Region
Local Government Forum


by Cr Joe McCracken
Deputy Mayor, Colac-Otway Shire

WEBINAR REPORT

Things don’t stop happening in Western Victoria Region – it’s go go go! We recently held a local government forum via zoom to encourage and support Liberal-minded candidates to run for local government. We had three well-qualified panellists: 

– Cr Andrew Bond (City of Port Phillip) 

– Mayor Cr Cynthia Watson (City of Boroondara) 

– Asher Judah (Letterboxing team leader, 2018 Bentleigh candidate) 

Along with our hard-working Member for Western Victoria Region, Bev McArthur MLC, herself a former Corangamite Shire Councillor. We also had strong support from Bellarine SEC Chair Charles Henry and his hard-working and capable team in organising the forum. 

We had around 100 committed Liberals attend this forum from all across the region. Some of the topics we discussed were: 

– Campaigning in a COVID19 environment 

– Raising money 

– Running as a clear Liberal or an independent 

– The power of social media 

– Letterbox drops 

– Media coverage 

– Pamphlets and ‘ideal real-estate’ to get maximum impact 

– Working in hard Labor areas 

– Changes to the Local Government Act 

– Single councillor, multi-member and un-subdivided councils 

We were really keen to encourage questions and engagement amongst members – all too often it’s a case of listening to a presenter and little action, but we really wanted to focus on everyone having the ability to ask questions, get responses and encourage discussion and debate. The Liberal Party is always at its strongest when members are actively listened to and have the ability to contribute in a meaningful way. 

If anyone is considering running for local council would like to follow up, please reach out to myself or the Local Government Council President, Cr Cynthia Watson.

Good luck to everyone that runs!

Welcome Support for Democratic Elections!

by the Editor

Commenting in the Ballarat Courier 6 August on the COVID-19 environment and 2020 local government elections, Cr Amy Johnson said “Lots of other things have been put on hold this year – but I dont think democracy should be one of them.”  

In Cr Johnson’s dual role as Liberal Victoria’s Country Female VP, Members look forward to her support for a return of democracy in the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party as well (i.e., a 2020 State Council and Annual Meeting), as a matter of urgency.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Stage 4 & State Council

Dear Editor, 

I’m sad to see that Victoria is now in stage 4 lockdown (Daniel Andrews MR 2/08/20). I guess this means that our State Council is now further away and will not happen in the foreseeable future. It is really disheartening to see the inaction of the Admin Committee. 

Between the lockdowns, it would have been acceptable to have postal voting for the new Admin Committee or an online voting system, where scrutineers could have attended to observe the counting of the ballots. Now that can’t happen. 

When will the leadership of the Victorian Division step up? When will we enter the 21st Century? 

Are there other members who share my concern? So many of whom attended AGMs and had to win a State Council delegate position. Due to a health crisis, now our voting rights have been stripped away. We really need to figure out a way to move forward with COVID-19 with us! 

Rebecca Jelicic
 



Campaigning – it’s simple: not patronising!

Dear Editor,

Remember: in an aspirational working (and just about any) class family; if Mum is very unhappy, we lose three (3) votes: Mum’s; the eldest child’s (always close to Mum); and the Dad’s (heavily influenced by his wife/partner). We should do more with simple “verbal bullet points”! Get to the point quickly and stick to it. Same spirit with general advertising; no Fourth Book of Genesis stuff! Send volunteers out to shopping malls, etc. and just sit listening to family conversations; most enlightening, especially if politely asking questions. We must set up a “Tradie Squad” of supporters to push our cause; especially, to tradies’ wives/partners. 

Correct me if I’m wrong. However, it appears to me too many of our volunteers are elderly or young university types; no offence to either group intended.

Howard Hutchins
 



Losing Democracy!

When I came to Australia with my family in July 1981 we came to a great country. We left behind the bombs, bullets and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and met a great number of people with a sense of humour and only too willing to help out where they could. Freedom of speech was the norm as were a number of Irish jokes that we all shared. Plenty of work for everyone. 

Here we are today in the middle of 2020 and what do we see – a country divided where freedom of speech is questioned and where jokes are no longer told for fear of upsetting someone. It seems that it is a crime to be a law-abiding citizen especially here in Victoria. 

I have been involved in a number of community groups over the years and I joined the Liberal Party to help restore democracy to the State of Victoria given that the Labor Party have taken us down the road to a dictatorship. 

There is no ALP in Australia. What we have is what I call the TLD Party – Taxes, Lies and Debt. That’s what Labor stands for today. They will never have “Honesty” as one of their policies. 

Let’s all work together to rid Australia, especially Victoria, of the dictatorial Labor Party and restore Democracy to this great country. 

Brian Mawhinney
 



Supporting Liberal Values Locally

Yes, we need more people with true Liberal values on Council as the overall budget is huge; over $10bn in Victoria, as Cynthia Watson stated in her article in Grassroots Edition 1. 

I am a Stonnington Councillor and was horrified when, among many non-Liberal ideas at Stonnington, the Council voted 8 to 1 (me being the exemption) for Stonnington Council to declare a Climate Emergency. 

During the debate, a Labor Councillor had the gall to attack the Prime Minister and this was supported by the other 7 Councillors! 

I think we need to be careful about Liberals on Council as I am seeing that the Party can be used by individuals to get on to Council and then vote for their own personal benefit; swinging with whoever they owe or are owed. 

There are insufficient checks on Council behaviours and this leads to wasted funds and a disenfranchised community. 

Supporting small business is the obvious way in which Liberals can express their Liberalism, and right now small business is the number one victim of the Andrews Government’s policies. 

Cr Marcia Griffin
 



Democracy still under attack!

Dear Editor,

“Democracy is under attack” (Edward Bourke – Grassroots Edition 1) in the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party too.

The Annual State Council and AGM, scheduled for 23 and 24 May, is now more than two months overdue and counting. The excuse from the Admin Committee is COVID-19 restrictions; we can’t meet in person. Meanwhile, all other organisations and bodies are meeting and voting electronically. 

Given that some Admin Committee members risk losing their seats at a 2020 State Council AGM, isn’t there a conflict of interest in them deciding to delay it? How can they separate their judgement on whether to hold a State Council from their obvious personal interest in delaying it as long as possible?

Diane Plim
 



Great First Issue!

Hello Editor,

This is a great First Issue of Grassroots, and I hope there are many to follow. 

I hope all Liberal Members with an email address will receive this, as it contains good, up to date information, which can be passed to others, in passing conversation. 

Owen Carlton

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