Throughout this election campaign – and in fact, for months previous, we hear about the idea of “bringing Council back to basics,” or focusing on the “core responsibilities” of “roads, rates, and rubbish.” The angle being that these are the only things that actually matter for a local council, and anything else is, as one candidate put it, “nice to haves.”

The problem is that it’s absolute rubbish itself.

If we look at the Local Government Act, there are three items defined as the “functions” of a council. Those are:

  1. To provide for the health, safety and welfare of the community;
  2. To represent and promote the interests of the community;
  3. to provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal area.

in these, we can see where aspects of the “roads, rates, and rubbish” ideas fit. Garbage collection and safe roads are definitely important to the health, safety and welfare of the community, and good management of ratepayers’ money is in the community’s interests – not only that, but the rates are necessary for the facilitation of these tasks.

However, it’s an absolute fallacy to argue that there is nothing more to the responsibilities of a local council than “roads, rates, and rubbish,” when looking at this.

There’s a lot more to it than that!

Anything that is related to these items is Council’s “core responsibility.” Art and culture are beneficial to the community, giving people in the community opportunities to grow, to learn, to build new skills are all beneficial to the community. Removing an offensive and divisive statue is providing for the peace and order of the community. Providing active transport solutions is beneficial to the community.

Council has so much more responsibility than “roads, rates, and rubbish.” That there are candidates actually suggesting that these are the only things that should be focused on is actually going against the Local Government Act, and ignoring manhy of Council’s “core duties.” As we head into October, let’s remember that Hobart City Council has a wide range of responsibilities to ensure that our city reaches its full potential.