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Don’t Sack Marrickville: It’ll Help The Dopes

April 15, 2011

Green Party Mayor Fiona ByrneThe Marrickville Council boycott of Israel– how absurd that phrase itself sounds – is hurting the Green Party, producing the first serious coverage of division in its ranks. And on the ground in Marrickville it has discredited the Green Party, having helped the cool-headed and gracious Labor candidate Carmel Tebbutt to hold the seat on March 26.
It is also exposing the dubious concept of a boycott of Israel given:

  • economic isolation of Israel will hurt economic development in the occupied territories that will one day form the Palestinian state and make development of that state all the more difficult;
  • there are numerous regimes in the world guilty of oppression and breaches of freedom worse than any committed by the Netanyahu government which, at the very least, faces a free media, parliamentary opposition, regular elections and a Supreme Court that has disallowed torture.

If any thing could produce a measure of sympathy towards Mayor Fiona Byrne and her Council, it would be the new Coalition government threatening to sack them.

All of a sudden, inner-city dwellers who now suspect the Mayor is out of her depth or just plain bonkers will swing to her defence because dismissal represents bully boy tactics. The Council can’t make a boycott stick. They are in trouble defending it. They look absurd running a foreign policy. Better to allow them to wallow in their own muddle-headedness than to shift the debate to whether Marrickville deserves local government. All of a sudden people who have broken with the Green Party and voted against it in the state elections would be signing petitions and even hoisting placards to resist a right-wing state government taking over its affairs.

Premier O’Farrell would be handing the Green Party a “get-out-of-gaol” card. It would be politically heavy handed, and suit the Green Party fine when they are now totally wrong footed.

It’s too nice to watch these opportunists struggling. They were defeated by the Labor Party in Marrickville partly because of this. Let them keep struggling to hold their head above water. Don’t send them a life buoy and allow then to rally support.

Think on it Barry.

  1. Paul permalink
    April 15, 2011 11:29 am

    Bob, there is another agument that many have forgotten – and that is the history of other governments who encouraged the boycott of Jewish businesses. At the very least, sensitivity to world history would suggest a boycott is terribly inappropriate. I thought the world had learnt that you dont go around trashing jewish shopkeepers, or anyone else becuase of their nationality, religion, sexuality or race.

    On this one, Im tempted to disagree with you Bob, the left of politics goes soft on its own, I’m sure if a conservative council had proposed a similar scheme, it would not have been called muddle headed or dopes, but racist and the fury of the media would have been unleashed on them – and righly so. Its not muddle headed, its far worse.

  2. Tim permalink
    April 15, 2011 11:37 am

    A fair rationale for not sacking the council. However, given the rate at which NSW councils were sacked or threatened with the sack during the term of previous government it seems a bit inconsistent. As much as I enjoy watching the extremist Greens Party getting its comeuppance, any council so derelict in its local responsibilities that it wastes it time with hatful resolutions such as this deserves to be punted.

  3. Chris Cudmore permalink
    April 15, 2011 1:32 pm

    Marrickville Council has entered into an area of Australian Foreign policy where no other Australian Government has dared.
    The arrogant nature of the Israeli Government deserves to be more broadly canvassed, locally and internationally. The value of a local council boycott is likely to be infinitesimal, however, the canvassing of a truly international scandal is a worthy activity of any democratic institution. While I am unable to comment as to the rationale behind the Council’s decision, the consequent discussion is a great public service.

    • Raoul Machal permalink
      April 17, 2011 8:28 am

      Tim, it only appears “arrogant” to those who do either not know the history of the region, or happen to be indoctrinated by a distorted view of historical facts. Those who have an understanding of UN and League of Nations resolutions pertaining to the international borders of Israel, and further understand the reasons for what has happened in three wars brought onto Israel by it’s neighbours, plus one so-called intifada after another; those understand that there is no “Palestinian” state that Israel could possibly occupy. This Palestinian state is called in fact called Jordan, and Israel does not occupy any piece of Jordan. Israel is well within it’s rights – and souvereign duties – to try to protect its citizens from murderous terrorist attacks. If nothing else has worked, perhaps the fence (with some segments of wall) will. So far it seems to work better than anything tried before.

      • Tim permalink
        April 17, 2011 2:30 pm

        I think you meant Chris, there about the arrogance. But Well said. Israel is well within its rights to defend itself. It probably doe not go far enough in doing this, but instead panders to many whose ultimate goal is its destruction and/or carving up of more of its rightful land.

  4. Dubbxe permalink
    April 16, 2011 1:44 pm

    A question I have yet to see fully answered, baffles me, completely. What has Marrackville Council got to do with Israel, let alone anywhere else beyond it’s gazetted shire boundary. Should not the Council be concentrating on more homely matters, such as those to which it’s most fundamental reason for existence extends: road-, footpath-, and parks and grounds maintenance, street cleaning, thoroughfare lighting, and a myriad other normal, day-to-day public infrastructure matters.
    Ad hoc bad-mouthing of a Nation that has seen more attrocities in its’ short history than apathetic, pip-squeak Australia is ever likely to confront – in the short term, is not a good look for a mere councillor attempting to make a noise, and shift public focus away from council ineptitude.
    The people of Israel, in fact, Jewish people the world over are by far a nicer, more generous group than are many ‘Australians’. Many of us would do well to live in Israeli shoes for a time and see first hand how their both their immediate neighbours, and others from around the globe – treat them.

  5. Perry permalink
    April 16, 2011 6:25 pm

    Bob, an interesting view which I have some sympathy for. The problem is that ratepayers’ money has and will be spent on the boycott. That simply cannot be tolerated and Council should be sacked if they do not pull their heads in. And what will happen to the four Labor councilors who support the boycott? Should they face sancture for bringing the party into disrepute?

  6. April 17, 2011 12:00 am

    Fiona Byrne needs to walk away from Marrickville Council, she has done so much damage to the local area that there is no reason for her to stay.
    Either she walks or the people of Marrickville make her GO !!!!!
    The Greens are dead in Marrickville, the next vote will show this.
    The BDS is now finished in Australia, the rest of the world will follow unless it is Socialist or Communist.

  7. Keith permalink
    April 17, 2011 9:51 am

    Ah, the sympathy vote. That’s all labor got at the last state election.
    How well did that work out ?
    And to think that the voters of Marrickville narrowly avoided sending this fool to the NSW legislature. NSW democracy has narrowly dodged the bullet of legitimising one more halfwit green by giving them a State platform instead of a local one.
    If Marrickville council is infringing the Local Government Act, or the Constitution, then they should be disbanded. Simple as that, and let them have all the sympathy they desire.
    To be worried about a sympathy vote, Bob you are perhaps showing that the trajectory of NSW Labor was set quite some time ago. Ooh someone might not like that – was this how you governed ??

  8. April 17, 2011 8:39 pm

    Raoul – I think you meant your reply to Chris not Tim.

    Bob, you make a fair point.

    IIUC, the constitution defers foreign policy from the states to the Federal Government, with local governments arms of the State Goverments. So, it’s a bit weird for a local Government to be dabbling in foreign affairs, but it’s not Australia’s boundaries, but rather Council boundaries. Still, you’d be hard pressed to apply some legal principles to declare what Marrickville council is doing as void.

    Bob, you are saying Fiona and others are muddle headed. Perhaps they are. They’ve been labelled as extremist, but perhaps a good description would also be acting according their own principles – and wrong, rather than just ‘extremist’.

    Ultimately, though, democracy lets the majority get its way. It does not necessarily mean good decisions, but it does mean accountable decisions. When Howard joined the war against Iraq, he used his majority – and lots of people disagreed. But that was democracy. Fiona has her numbers, and here’s democracy at work.

    Democracy will run its course, and perhaps throw the Greens out of Marrickville. But that’s for democracy to do what it will do. I can’t see what’s the point in predicting what will happen. I’m more inclined to let happen, what happens, and leave it to the residents of Marrickville to make their own decision.

  9. Keith permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:17 am

    John August
    The boycott is also illegal in terms of the Trade Practices Act which gives teeth the provisions for free and unrestricted trade and movement of goods between the States. Any which way you slice it, it is just plain illegal, and should someone’s commerce be damaged by Marrickville’s actions, they would be entitled to compensation which would be sourced from the ratepayers of Marrickville.

  10. April 18, 2011 7:55 am

    People proclaiming something is “illegal” is usually code for “I don’t like it”, people try to think of it being illegal in the same way as murder is illegal, in order to gain emotional traction. Even if it were “illegal”, it would be in a quite different category.

    I’d be very surprised if courts actually decided to intervene in matters like this – they’d probably defer to matters of democratic processes and public debate. Then, you have the issue of whether the State Government could credibly use its powers to intervene in Marrickville’s affairs, on the claim that something is “illegal”. Again, any “illegality” is in a quite different category.

    Point is, I’m not legally qualified. I’d only expect people to take credibly a legally qualified commentator in the relevant areas of law who did not have a pre-existing axe to grind about Israel, the Greens, or any other relevant party. Keith, I don’t think either of us fit into that category.

    But, even at the level of mouthing off as a legally unqualified person, I don’t think you’ve thought your point through. Marrickville council is not stopping any local business from trading in Israeli goods; it’s just that the legal entity of Council is not trading in Israeli goods. Any given business or business like entity can make its own separate choices about where it is going to buy things; to expect otherwise would be a restriction of our freedoms. I believe there are some provisions about abusing monopoly powers, but that’s to do with *selling*, not *buying*. Marrickville Council is not making *other* businesses do particular things, which would be what I thought the TPA was about.

    Further, the Constitution (and presumably the Trade Practices Act, if you are correct), are about trade *between States*, not within States. I think the above paragraph is correct. But, even if I’m wrong, you’d only have a credible case for a Victorian firm trying to do something in Marrickville, not a firm *within NSW* selling *within NSW*.

    The fact that your analysis has not covered these points suggests you are shooting from the hip and does not bode well for the general quality of your analysis; and then there’s the fact you are making assurances like “just plain illegal”, like you are an authority to make such statements.

    I re-emphasise : there’s a democratic process here, and the people of Marrickville will hold the Greens of Marrickville accountable at the next election if the concerns have traction with them. It is a matter for the residents of that Council to decide.

  11. Kim permalink
    April 23, 2011 5:21 pm

    Don’t sack Marrickville,it’ll help the dopes.
    Don’t you understand that ad hominem is counter productive after all your years in the public eye!No matter what you think of the proposal by the council it was in my opinion based on empathy/sympathy and a strong sense of ethics, and virtue.

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