Barry O’Farrell, I’ve got my eye on you. It’s one thing to start sorting out the mess left after a decade and half of NSW Labor government that was incompetent to the point of, I suspect, corruption. I’m sure we can all provide a list of folks whose bank and phone records we’d like to see pulled by ICAC. But that’s very different from threatening with sacking a local government body whose actions happen not to coincide with the interests of your mates in the pro-Israel cheer squad.
Yes, Marrickville Council decided to boycott Israel over that whole Palestine thing. So what? What business is that of yours as NSW Premier? None.
As an individual, I have the right to hold whatever political views I like. Freedom of thought and freedom of political expression are amongst the very few human rights we’ve properly protected here in Australia. Should I decide that some individual, group, business, organisation or nation holds views so repugnant that I’d rather not support them, then it’s my right not to do business with them.
As a proper, legally-constituted, legitimately-elected local government body — as a legal “person” — the Marrickville Council also has that basic legal right to choose who it does business with.
Now as it happens, I reckon Marrickville’s decision wasn’t terribly well thought through. As my colleague Josh Taylor over at ZDNet Australia points out, boycotting everything that comes out of Israel denies you access to the latest computing technology from Intel, amongst other things. The very fact that Marrickville Council didn’t respond to his questions but instead waved him off to a prepared statement at their website proves, in my opinion, that they don’t have the intellectual integrity or moral backbone to discuss and stand by their decision. By all means criticise them for that.
But until very recently I’d spent most of a decade as a citizen of Marrickville. Yes, there’s a certain idealistic leftism suffusing the place, if I may resort to that tediously tired old left-right classification. But from a resident’s perspective they got on with the job of delivering services with far fewer allegations of dodgy behaviour than certain Labor-dominated local councils I could name. Or Liberal-dominated councils, for that matter. Why isn’t your attention focussed on them?
So, Mr O’Farrell, unless you’ve got some prima facie evidence of corruption or misconduct on the part of Marrickville Council, piss off out of it. It’s up to the citizens of Marrickville to decide whether they do or don’t support their Council’s actions, no-one else’s.
You’ve got enough on your plate to be getting on with as it is, Mr O’Farrell. Get on with it.