Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green’s Tour de Gopher with local resident Mel Mortimer last week demonstrates exactly what is great about local government – it really is local.
What other level of government has a leader whose phone number is readily available and who is open to the idea of jumping on a gopher to get a proper understanding of an issue that affects the day-to-day lives of many of its electors?
That is real community consultation.
And Mr Green is not alone in his accessibility to the community.
Out of the three tiers of government in Australia – federal, state and local - local government is definitely the most in touch with the people it represents.
And not just in terms of geographical proximity.
All over Eyre Peninsula – and the rest of regional South Australia – local councillors and mayors are always out and about at various functions and events, and available for their constituents to have a chat about any local issues concerning them – whether that be gopher access around the central business district or boat ramp fees or a pothole on their street.
In fact market-goers at the Tumby Bay Market at the Bay on Sunday would have seen all three southern Eyre Peninsula mayors enjoying the local event.
Even at social occasions they are hardly ever off duty.
This accessibility also means there is no hiding when councils make an unpopular decision, which makes councillors more accountable to the residents.
Our local members of parliament here on Eyre Peninsula are also very visible and accessible but the reality is, putting forward your views to a local councillor has more chance of changing the outcome of a council decision than lobbying the local state or federal member on a state or national issue – no matter how supportive or sympathetic they may be.
Whatever the outcome of Friday’s gopher tour, Mr Mortimer knows his views have been heard and taken seriously by the city’s governing authority and that is the most important thing.
Nothing a council does will have 100 per cent community support but everyone should have the opportunity to have a say and have their views heard and that is something local government has the best opportunity to do well.