Our mayor and councillors – what do they think about climate change?

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Councillors are our locally elected representatives. In City of Greater Geelong, they are elected for four year terms to represent 12 local areas. They meet regularly to deal with a wide range of issues and may be able to meet with and discuss issues with ratepayers.

So, at a personal level, what do they think about climate change? Does it worry them? In a mini-survey we asked them this question, and below you can see in detail what they replied.

Concerned: yes. Increased budget: no
Overall, most of the Geelong councillors told us that they are concerned about climate change. It worries them. But asked whether the next council budget will reflect this concern, only very few of them would come up with a straight-forward answer, and only one councillor, Cr Andy Richards, found himself able to reply “yes” to question 4, “In the budget for next year [of around $320 million dollars], do you think Geelong Council should increase the funds it dedicates to carbon emission reducing initiatives and activities?”.

11 out of the 13 councillors responded to our survey. Cr Lindsay Ellis stressed he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a councillor as he wasn’t sure what his future as a councillor would be.

Some councillors felt that climate change is a much too big an issue to be left to local government. Cr Tony Ansett, for instance, called for much more leadership from the federal government.

Question: Do you personally worry about climate change?

Answers:

Mayor Darryn Lyons:
“Yes, a fair amount”

Bruce Harwood
Cr Bruce Harwood, Deputy Mayor,
Kardinia Ward
“Yes, as a parent and grandparent it is always concerning”
John Irvine
Cr John Irvine, Austin Ward
“Yes, a fair amount”
Jan Farrell
Cr Jan Farrell, Beangala Ward
– Declined to reply
Michelle Heagney
Cr Michelle Heagney, Brownbill Ward
“Yes, I personally worry particularly for farming and food supply.”
Andy Richards
Cr Andy Richards, Buckley Ward
“Yes, a great deal”
Rod Macdonald
Cr Rod Macdonald, Cheetham Ward
“Yes, a fair amount”
Lindsay Ellis
Cr Lindsay Ellis, Coryule Ward
“Definitely concerned, especially about coastal infrastructure.”
Eddy Kontelj
Cr Eddy Kontelj, Cowie Ward
“Yes. I do have a concern and interest
in the affects of climate change.”
Ron Nelson
Cr Ron Nelson, Deakin Ward
– Declined to reply
Peter Murrihy
Cr Peter Murrihy, Kildare Ward
“Yes, but “worry” is a bit harsh. Worry/Concern? Only a little.”
Tony Ansett
Cr Tony Ansett, Windermere Ward
“Yes. More extreme weather events”

 


Geelong Council Climate Change Questionnaire

In the lead-up to World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2016, Geelong’s mayor and 12 councillors were asked the following four questions:

1. Is climate change caused by the effects of pollution from human activities?
[YES] [NO] [NO OPINION]

2. Do you personally worry about climate change?
[NOT AT ALL] [ONLY A LITTLE] [A FAIR AMOUNT] [A GREAT DEAL] [NO OPINION]

3. Do you think that climate change will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?
[YES] [NO] [NO OPINION]

4. In the budget for next year, do you think Council should increase the funds it dedicates to carbon emission reducing initiatives and activities?
[YES] [NO, IT’S FINE AS IT IS] [NO, IT SHOULD BE DECREASED] [NO OPINION]


The interim results of this questionnaire were announced on 94.7 The Pulse on 23 March 2016 and will be updated with a new announcement on 30 March 2016. The survey will also be sent as a media release to all newspapers and radio stations in the region.

Councillors in Cairns have been asked similar questions a couple of months ago, and Stonnington Councillors were asked the same questions on 21 March 2016.



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 SURVEY RESULTS: 

Councillors’ answers

Geelong’s mayor and 12 councillors replied our email in the following order and manner:

1. Is climate change caused by the effects of pollution from human activities?
Mayor Darryn Lyons: Yes
 

Cr Rod Macdonald: Yes
Cr Bruce Harwood: Yes
Cr John Irvine: Yes
Cr Eddy Kontelj: Research seems to indicate that climate change can occur naturally by many factors, including “climate drivers” such as changes in the sun’s intensity and also potentially by human activities.
Cr Kylie Fisher: Yes
Cr Michelle Heagney: Unsure, but the human activities resulting in climate change as I understand it are predominantly the use of non renewable energy sources …..I support being conservative with the use of these limited resources.
Cr Peter Murrihy: Yes, evidence proves that Climate Change is as a result of human activities.
Cr Andy Richards: Yes
Cr Lindsay Ellis: The climate has always changed, but man hasn’t helped the situation.
Cr Tony Ansett: Yes


2. Do you personally worry about climate change?
Mayor Darryn Lyons: Yes, a fair amount
Cr Rod Macdonald: Yes, a fair amount
Cr Bruce Harwood: Yes, as a parent and grandparent it is always concerning
Cr John Irvine: Yes, a fair amount
Cr Eddy Kontelj: Yes. I do have a concern and interest in the affects of climate change.
Cr Kylie Fisher: Yes
Cr Michelle Heagney: Yes, I personally worry particularly for farming and food supply.
Cr Peter Murrihy: Yes, but “worry” is a bit harsh. Worry/Concern? Only a little.
Cr Andy Richards: Yes, a great deal
Cr Lindsay Ellis: Definitely concerned, especially about coastal infrastructure
Cr Tony Ansett: Yes. More extreme weather events


3. Do you think that climate change will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?

Mayor Darryn Lyons: Yes
Cr Rod Macdonald: Yes
Cr Bruce Harwood: Yes, it already does
Cr John Irvine: Yes
Cr Eddy Kontelj: Whilst it is difficult to predict the future, I believe there are significant steps being taken, from a human impact perspective, to avoid this
Cr Kylie Fisher: Yes, isn’t it now?
Cr Michelle Heagney: Maybe – periods of drought or flood always effect our way of life so assuming that climate change makes for greater variation then I think it will have impacts.
Cr Peter Murrihy: Yes, I do think Climate Change will pose a serious threat in my lifetime (that is I hope to be spending many more years on this Planet)
Cr Andy Richards: Yes
Cr Lindsay Ellis: No, not in my lifetime
Cr Tony Ansett: Yes


4. In the budget for next year [of around $320 million dollars], do you think Geelong Council should increase the funds it dedicates to carbon emission reducing initiatives and activities?
Mayor Darryn Lyons: No, it’s fine as it is
Cr Rod Macdonald: [No precise answer] The funding for initiatives in 2016-17 will be determined during the budget process
Cr Bruce Harwood: [No precise answer] Budget allocation will continue to grow.
Cr John Irvine: I think it needs to be reviewed. If it requires more money we need to debate that. I will give you a commitment that I will try to track that down. I we are serious about it we need to consider increasing the amount in there.
Cr Eddy Kontelj: [No precise answer] When drafting a budget we do so in a manner to balance and address as many possible requirements of the community. As such once we complete our forthcoming budget it will be done so in the parameters of funding and expenditure that is available to the community at the time. No one person can suggest the amount of funding allocated to emission reducing initiatives in next years budget should be increased, as we have not even considered all of the budget requirements as yet and there is still much work to be done before we can establish the various funding amounts for all the services Council offer, and all the community expectations that have been put forward. 
Cr Kylie Fisher: [No answer] The budget has not yet been finalised, so how can I or any other councillor answer this question?
Cr Michelle Heagney: Unsure. I would evaluate each project on merit against all others.
Cr Peter Murrihy: Yes and no!!!! The question isn’t a simple one. The Budget is always complicated and difficult but of course if there is compelling evidence that allocating more funds in the Budget would seriously have an effect on reducing the Climate Change then as a Council we would have to consider it.
Cr Andy Richards: Yes
Cr Lindsay Ellis: [No precise answer] Climate change is too big an issue for local government – we have our role, but there needs to be more leadership from the Federal government. Council needs to plan especially along the coast.
Cr Tony Ansett: [No precise answer] Council is doing a lot already, but we have constraints put on us by State Government, especially in terms of rate pegging. This is too big an issue for local government – more leadership is needed from State and Federal Governments.


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Interview with John Irvine

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Mayor Darryn Lyons also noted:
“Council invests considerable resources to combat climate change, including emission reduction works and installation of renewable energy.”

Councillor Bruce Harwood also noted:
“As a parent and grandparent it is always concerning as to what future environment we may leave for our future generations. We must reduce our consumption of resources and become much more sustainable with existing.
Council has a considerable budget allocation towards many and varied environmental projects and promotion of sustainable environments, and has had for many years. This has grown and diversified and will continue to do so.”

Councillor Rod Macdonald also noted:
“It’s clear from the available science that humans contribute to global warming. This is one of the important issues or our time that must be seriously addressed, as it will impact all nations on the planet. Australia will have as many extreme changes in its climate as any country.
Council allocates considerable resources to dealing with this issue and I believe Geelong is a leader in local government in Australia and would like to see this continue. The funding for initiatives in 2016-17 will be determined during the budget process.”

Councillor Lindsay Ellis also noted:
“I am not speaking as a councillor here, rather as a private citizen, due to the uncertainty around the Council’s future.”



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23 March 2016 is World Meteorological Day – a global event
With the goal to contribute to a better understanding of climate variability and climate change, as well as to the development of much needed climate applications to address some of the major challenges of this century, World Meteorological Day is celebrated on 23 March by the World Meteorological Organization and the worldwide meteorological community.

» More information about the event: www.wmo.int/worldmetday



Source of Council information and photos:
www.geelongaustralia.com.au

The Mayor was elected for 2012–2016. Councillors are elected for four year terms to represent each of our 12 local areas, known as Wards. They meet regularly to deal with a wide range of issues and may be able to meet with and discuss issues with ratepayers. Councillors are usually part-time.

Code of conduct
Councillors of the City of Greater Geelong are committed to the Councillor Conduct Principles.

Elections
Council elections are held every four years. The Greater Geelong City Council General Elections were held on Saturday 27 October 2012.


Gallup: Growing concern in the US

“64% of Americans are worried ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ about global warming. Another key indicator of public concern about global warming is the percentage of U.S. adults who believe the phenomenon will eventually pose a serious threat to them or their way of life: 41% now say it will, up from 37% in 2015 and, by one point, the highest in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1997.”

» Gallup Poll – 4 March 2016:
U.S. Concern About Global Warming at Eight-Year High







 PETITION 1: 
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Help make our region fossil fuel free

» Sign petition to Geelong’s mayor and councillors


 PETITION 2: 
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Climate Emergency Petition

Help build support for a climate emergency declaration
» Sign petition to Members of the House of Representatives and Senators





One comment

  1. Hey guys, ALL the councillors were publically elected by the eligible voters in their respective wards. Our mayor was what’s called popularly elected (or directly elected) by voters from right across the municipality (before this model was adopted, the mayor would be elected from among the group of elected councillors).

    Now, our current mayor has confused the term “popularity elected” with the term “popularity” and chosen to see himself as somehow carrying much more clout than other councillors; he is the first among equals but and equal nonetheless! His 1st preference votes at the election were almost 30%, and it took a large number of preference distributions from one eliminated candidate to the next before the mayor stumbled across the line of 50% plus one.

    Our first popularly elected, Keith Fagg, amassed 60%+ on first preferences and had no need to look to preferences.

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