A lot has been said and written about last month’s contentious meeting – and in my view, rightly so – but there is a clear silver lining we risk missing out on.
In my opinion, Council should simply accept responsibility for a meeting that was not as ideal as it could have been – yes, there are reasons why it was run as it was, but we should not stubbornly try to defend those. We can instead accept the failings, learn from them, and strive to ‘do better’ – that is our role: to listen to our residents, and work hard to make things better.
Note: there have been concerns Councillors voted on the ‘no confidence’ motion when they should not have. I did not vote, and remained in my seat at the Councillor table – a fellow Councillor who moved behind me during the vote asked “are you voting yes or no Michael?” – I replied that I wasn’t voting.
However, there is an upside – the clear divisions in the room (both between Council & residents and between different groups of residents) actually present us a clear opportunity to learn more about what really divides us. Instead of focussing on “who is right” or who has more support, there is in Cottesloe right now an opportunity to understand better and more deeply what each ‘side’ wants, what matters to them and why – and work together to find ways to move forwards as a more cohesive group. I’m not calling for simply compromise or “middle ground” decision-making, but starting with ‘what and why’, including at a fundamental values based level – and then having that difficult discussion about different underlying needs, and how those deeper concerns can be addressed as best as possible in whatever solutions or direction we take up on the surface. If we don’t do this, or if we actually stop listening to each other, in terms of what really matters to us and why, we risk these current divisions simply deepening and taking root – and end up in Trump’s USA.
I have been taking time to reflect on how I can best fulfil my role as Councillor to help Cottesloe do this – I openly welcome your input, help and suggestions.