By Lilia Guan
Marrickville Council’s decision to back out of its support for the global boycott of Israeli goods has been welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
The decision was passed on Wednesday night’s council meeting where councillors discussed a staff report outlining the implications of implementing the policy.
Mayor Fiona Byrne said she had carefully considered the findings of the report on the issue.
“The report identified some options, the cost of which would be impractical to the council and our local residents,” Cr Byrne said.
In March, the council told Government News the decision to support the boycott as a “business decision”.
At the time Cr Byrne said the decision to institute the GBDS in Marrickville was “well within council’s jurisdiction”.
She claimed as an organisation it makes decisions about who it will or will not do business with as it spends ratepayers’ money to provide community services.
However the Council faced a number of criticisms over the decision.
National media outlets reported that a spokesperson for New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell sent Cr Byrne a letter stating if the council didn’t drop the matter he would disband the council.
ALGA president, Genia McCaffrey said councils walk a “fine line” and while they can’t always determine the right path they must do the “right thing” for those that elected them.
“[Councils] are elected and I get tired of people saying we shouldn’t be mixing politics,” she said.
“Of course there’s politics in councils and political parties and people have factions.”
However Cr McCaffrey said what council’s need to focus on is the mistake that Marrickville made by wading into international affairs.
“Foreign policy is the job of the federal government, unless it directly affects the community,” she said.
“In the past we do wade into international issues like uranium or nuclear reactors and that’s because it affected the communities where they were going to be built.”
According to Cr MacCaffrey the role boycotts of foreign governments wasn’t part of Marrickville’s “mandate”.
That’s the mistake it made and could hurt the procurement managers within the council, she said.
“We’ve boycotted products in the past, where council’s have been asked not to use James Hardie products.”
“But that was different because James Hardy was doing terrible things.”
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