Free speech has responsibilities

Everyone has a right to an opinion, but it’s important to listen and respect other people’s point of view.

Everyone has a right to an opinion, but it’s important to listen and respect other people’s point of view.

Living in a democracy like ours comes with great privileges and great responsibilities. The role of Councillors, as elected members of local government, also comes with great responsibility. This responsibility includes putting the community above our own personal benefit to do the best for the overall community who have tasked us with that role.

One of the most precious privileges of living in a democracy is the right of free speech. Free speech also comes with the responsibility for what and how we say what we do. When community issues come up that people feel passionate about, everyone has a right to an opinion but it’s important to listen and respect other people’s point of view. It is also important to consider what is fact and what is folklore.

Councillors are given opportunities to create improvements or address issues of concern within our community through the decision making process. These issues can be brought to us by a single person, a small group or a large section of the community.

When Councillors are making decisions that affect our community we are obliged to weigh up all of the information that is brought to Council for us to consider. While we empathise with individual situations, we are called upon to make judgements about what’s in the best interests of the whole community. 

Where the interests of the whole community compete with the interests of individuals or groups, those decisions can be tough and often not well received by everyone.  Councillors understand that this is part of being a Councillor. However, during the decision-making process we all appreciate respectful, constructive and factual arguments – for and against – matters brought to Council.

Similar to a board of directors, as a Council we are held accountable for what we do by setting out the vision and determining the direction for the future of our Shire.  How and when it will be delivered is set out in our publicly available long-term Community Plan, our four-year Delivery Plan, and our yearly Operational Plans.

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