Nuclear motion raises eyebrows

The City of Port Phillip took its political voice to new heights last month after passing a motion in support of the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

While local councils are usually synonymous for “rates, roads and rubbish,” a Nobel Prize-winning campaign against the global threat posed by nuclear weapons made its way onto the council’s October 24 meeting agenda.

Under a notice of motion adopted at the meeting, council has supported the campaign by calling on the federal government to sign the United Nations (UN) Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The motion also ensures that the council does not invest in companies producing nuclear weapons, while endorsing the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons (ICAN) cities appeal.

Greens councillor Katherine Copsey, who raised the notice of motion, said ICAN had been part of global efforts to progress the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons since its beginnings in Melbourne in 2006. The organisation, whose members include Port Phillip residents, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

“ICAN are homegrown heroes determined to take us to a future free from the threat of nuclear weapons. They perfectly epitomise the Margaret Mead quote: ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’,” Cr Copsey said.

Cr Marcus Pearl, who voted against the motion on October 24, ridiculed it as a waste of the council’s resources.

“If councillors are more interested in defence policy than rubbish collection, perhaps they should stand for the Federal Parliament,” Cr Pearl told Southbank Local News.

“Ratepayers tell me they are sick and tired of councillors pushing their own political agendas before working for our local community.” 

“So far as I am aware the City of Port Phillip does not have any nuclear weapons in our possession.”

“We had our CEO and top five officers having to sit through this motion for more than 45 minutes. This is a total waste of ratepayers’ time and money.”

“It’s disappointing that these sorts of motions are brought to council, but other important local issues do not get the same attention.” 

Deputy Mayor Louise Crawford, one of seven councillors (Copsey, Voss, Baxter, Brand, Gross and Simic) to vote in favour of the motion said: “Nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable threat to people everywhere. It is important to do what we can to stop this horror happening again, especially when the use of such weapons would be deliberate.”

Cr Andrew Bond abstained from voting.

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