Another local council is under fire for earmarking funds to promote the Yes campaign as the Indigenous Voice referendum nears Parliament.
Melbourne’s Merri-Bek City Council has set aside $22,000 to host forums, award grants and display promotional material in support of Voice.
The Merri-Bek City Council recently voted to support the proposal, but Councilor Oscar Yildiz, one of two people who rejected it, thinks it is a ‘disgrace’.
“This is all a waste of money,” Cr Yildiz said during an appearance on 3AW’s Mornings with Neil Mitchell on Thursday.
This is the latest council to set aside taxpayer funds after Sydney’s Randwick Council allocated $28,900 for the Yes campaign, which was dwarfed by the city of Sydney, which plans to spend more than $500,000.
Councilor Oscar Yildiz appeared on Mornings with Neil Mitchell to criticize his local council’s plan to spend $22,000 on the Yes campaign
Cr Yildiz said it was all a “disgrace” and a waste of taxpayers’ money, most of whom are more concerned about whether their containers are collected on time.
Cr Yildiz itemized the total sum to Mr. Mitchell, specifying that the wording of the action was specifically to support the yes vote.
“Eight thousand we’re basically wasting on forums and community conversations,” he said.
Ten thousand in rapid response grants, programs for community groups and organizations. And then six thousand in printed materials.
‘The actual report writing is promoting a Yes campaign.’
The council had the wrong agenda to put pressure on its members, some of whom might not support the vote, he said.
Cr Yildiz described the push for Yes as “shameful behaviour” and an “abuse” of power by those at the top.
“I have seen members of parliament, councilors and indigenous leaders come to our citizenship ceremonies and promote the Yes vote,” he said.
“The councilors basically use the council as a platform to push their own agenda among residents and even new Australians.”
Rather than focus on the referendum, Yildiz insisted that his constituents were more concerned with whether or not their containers were collected on time.
“Our residents did not vote for us to fight for social issues…they care that their containers are collected on time and basic services are provided,” he said.
‘Let’s not indulge in social problems, we must focus on traditional council services.’
This is the latest example of local governments getting involved in the issue, which has always been controversial.
In June, Labor councilor Linda Scott said she supported the Yes campaign because it represents “the views of our community” in the city of Sydney.
Other councilors were quick to object to the use of the funds, echoing Cr Yildiz’s claims that it was wrong to push to one side of the debate.
Randwick’s Liberal councilor Christie Hamilton said it was “harmful to us to push one particular side”.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Price also took the time to criticize Sydney’s city ‘inner-city elites’ who were wasting money on ‘propaganda’.
Merri-Bek is the latest council to set aside taxpayer funds after Sydney’s Randwick Council allocated $28,900 for the Yes campaign, which was dwarfed by the city of Sydney, which plans to spend more than $500,000
Melbourne’s Merri-Bek Council (pictured: Mayor Angelica Panopoulos) has set aside $22,000 to host forums, award grants and display promotional material for Voice.
In June, Labor Councilor Linda Scott (pictured) pledged half a million dollars to the Yes campaign because it represents “the views of our community” in the city of Sydney.
In May it was revealed that the City of Sydney’s half million package to support Voice would include $260,000 for a communication and engagement campaign, $160,000 for banners and up to $90,000 to support community events.
Price, who is strongly opposed to Voice, said Sydney City Council’s promise of funding was “inexcusable” during the cost-of-living crisis.
“This is just another example of inner-city elites wasting time and money to make themselves feel good without regard to the real issues facing indigenous people in rural and remote parts of Australia,” he said.
Liberal councilor Shauna Jarrett also said council support would mean parties from ‘other sides of the campaign’ would not be able to use council facilities.
“In its current forum, this memo would only allow a campaign for one side of the voice and would directly fund only one group within the community,” Cr Jarrett.
Despite these protests, cities continue to pledge money in support of Voice across Australia.
In March, Melbourne city councilors endorsed the Yes campaign, with Mayor Sally Capp bragging that she was the first council in the capital to do so.
Melbourne’s vote was unanimous, but there has been strong dissent on other councils and waves of anger from taxpayers who want the money spent elsewhere.
Fremantle in Western Australia also plans to spend $35,500 to support it.
Liberal councilor for Randwick, Christie Hamilton (pictured), shared Cr Yildiz’s sentiment, saying it was “detrimental to us to push one particular side”.