Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Aristotle to Liverpool 2008

It was Aristotle, over 2300 years ago, who described we humans as being political animals. It was not meant as a put down as in today's language; rather a categorisation. Aristotle saw the exercise of politics as a civic duty and that citizens should at once be willing to be ruled,and, be willing to rule. The former should prepare the citizen for the latter. Politics was to be an exercise of virtue, with persuasion as the key mode of operation.

To bring this to a current 2008 practical reality, I am, as a citizen, putting myself forward for election as Mayor of Liverpool in September 2008 - Byrne for Mayor.

I am ready and most willing, with full acknowledgement of the task ahead.

I am to face ferocious opposition from people who seek to control politics in Liverpool as cogs and wheels in the political party machinery. People who oversaw the 1999- 2004 Oasis development debacle where we as citizens saw $20 million of public funds wasted negligently to produce only a concrete slab. People who brought shame again to Liverpool with our Council being sacked a second time in 30 years. These are the perverse "political animals" of the modern machine politics era. Where personal careers and Party interest are served first and foremost, and the public interest placed a poor last.

It is a political reality that the Labor Party is the "natural" party in Liverpool. The Labor MP for Liverpool, Paul Lynch MP, commands a 70% primary vote at the State Elections. He has drawn a public purse salary and allowances of some $1.25 million across a decade whilst representing Liverpool. How well are we doing? Enough said.

The last two Liverpool City Councils had Labor majorities that saw Council hand over $15 million to a bunch of football boofheads and a spivvy hanger-on for them to expend, including self payment of generous $400K salaries, without effective oversight. This is still shameful. Whilst Council was sacked there was no action taken by the Labor Party State Government to seek financial re-compensation from the persons most responsible, being the Mayor ( Paciullo) , the General Manager (Carr) and the Chairman of the Finance Committee (Waller). Political Party interests are themselves first, second and third, with the public interest last.

Concerning this Campaign, I cannot do it alone. I have no personal wealth to draw on. I will seek funding and support from the same people I am asking to vote for me to be the voice for them as leader of the Council. More on this soon.

In closing this first blog contribution, I bring to the people of Liverpool that most fundamental democratic property from way back in the days of Aristotle- choice. A choice with substance and over 28 years of active engagement in the civic and social development within Liverpool.

I will be publishing soon a summary of my civic activity across those 28 years.

Note: Outside of Council I was the main public voice against the Oasis operation. I experienced the cold shoulder from Councillors, Officers and some local business people who closed their eyes to what was going on. I am happy to answer any questions you may have concerning this long, costly and sad saga. I will be relating some of the more interesting snippets over time via this Blog.

My best wishes to you all.

Michael Byrne

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Civic Background


Here is an opportunity to get to know my background to assist you in your decision come election day - Saturday September 13th.

After observing and engaging with politicians for many years certain attributes stand out for those who make a difference. They have a purpose from which flows policy which delivers programmes for the public good. I believe my recorded civic services hereunder displays a person with such purpose to form good policy and consequential public benefit programmes.

Liverpool over the years had some fine politicians who placed people before Party.

In East Liverpool we had Don Syme and Ron Hollands representing us on Liverpool City Council with a real sense of purpose beyond self-serving. Casey Conway from the Valley was a genuine politician who served with real purpose and was capable of acting in the interest of Liverpool citizens before his Labor Party's interest.

I am well recorded as being a supporter of Mark Latham. He was a conviction politician who played the game hard ( too hard for some) but he got done what he saw to be in the public interest. Mark won the first Popularly Elected Mayor vote held in 1991 after I had led the East Ward Progress Association campaign from 1986 for the people to have the right to vote directly for their Mayor rather than it being an annual "circus" involving all Councillors.

Now have a quick browse of my history with a few additional comments along the way.

And do use the Comments or email links if you wish to place a comment.

2007&2008 - President of East Liverpool Progress Association

2007&2008 - President of Garie Surf Life Saving Club (located in the Royal National Park)

  • In 2002 I decided to attain the Surf Life Saving Bronze Medallion at Garie Beach in the Royal National Park. It was something I always wanted to do. It gave me a purpose to get fitter ( do you know that with a desire and by making right choices and commitment you can regain the fitness of youth? I am not there but I am much fitter and well.). It was also a good excuse to go the beach more regularly. In 2007 the stalwart President of Garie Surf Life Saving Club, the late Alf Taylor, took gravely ill and I was asked by Alf to take on the Presidency. Another source of a 1000 stories.
2005-2007 Secretary of East Liverpool Progress Association

2002-2004 President of East Liverpool Progress Association

2003 March Ran as a Candidate ( budget $750 - about 830 votes) for the seat of Menai

  • This was done with the sole purpose of raising attention to the Oasis debacle in which Liverpool Council was still proceeding, after the exposure of the Council mishandling ratepayer funds to the tune of $20 million.Much damage was done to ratepayer interests in this delayed time before the Inquiry was initiated later in 2003.
  • Over this time Liverpool City Council, with 2008 Mayoral Candidate Wendy Waller as Finance Committee Chairman, made a desperate act. They signed over development rights of its valuable CBD assets solely to Macquarie Bank whose actions were described as "opportunistic" and "predatory"( Public Inquiry findings). This latter event happened with full knowledge of the Premier's Department.
    In 2007 the Administrator approved payment of fees and a payout of over $1 million to extract Liverpool citizens from this arrangement. This is after Liverpool City Council, with Wendy Waller as Finance Committee Chairman, paid the Bulldogs Football Club over $660,000 to terminate the Oasis agreement. They were the people who spent our money on huge salaries and fees for themselves and sly payments to Bulldog players.

    And we as ratepayers are left with a $22 million hole in our budget with a concrete slab to show for it.
2002 November.
  • First letter to Premier Carr seeking Government to suspend Liverpool City Council to protect the interests of the ratepayers from the actions of a desperate Council. The Government did not act until after the State Election in March 2003. See above.

2000-2004 Policy Spokesman for East Liverpool Progress Association, with particular
focus on the Oasis project.

  • As Liverpool City Council resorted to unpublicised, secret, closed meetings to manage the key decisions on Oasis, Michael participated in any forum he could to seek to publicise the shortcomings and associated risks of the Oasis project.
  • Michael was ejected ( escorted to the door) by Council from its December 12th 2001 meeting after he politely sought to speak to a Budget Review Submission before Council concerning the transfer of $15 million to the Oasis project. Within 12 months Oasis was in ruins with the $15 million of funds placed, without adequate oversight, into an entity controlled by Canterbury Bulldog officials. Liverpool ratepayers got themselves a concrete slab.
  • Michael provided an extensive submission to the Public Inquiry that led to the sacking of the Council over their handling of Oasis.

1994-99 Founding President of the Liverpool Boating Association Inc.:

  • Michael brought together Liverpool City Council (Boat Shed), Patrician Bros. Boys High Liverpool (8 pacer Sailing Dinghies) and Members of the public with sailing experience.

  • This established sailing as a sport in Liverpool on the Chipping Norton Lakes. The sailing club participates in local, metropolitan and state sailing regattas.

1994-97 Board Member of the Whitlam Leisure Centre managed by Leisure Australia. (Liverpool Community and Recreation Association)

  • It was in this capacity Michael attained the first glimpse of Oasis like behaviour by Liverpool City Council under Mayor George Paciullo. A submission to the ICAC on non-disclosure of personal interest by the then General Manager and Council's failure to act on it in 1999 was rejected as not requiring investigation. If only they had done their job.

1994 Candidate in by-election for Mayor & East Ward Councillor -

  • A testing the waters exercise under the preferential voting method as opposed to the independent friendly proportional method which would have seen him elected with excess quota. The hard hitting election pamphlet drew a a good voter response ( 28%) , and drew severe resentment from the Labor Party in Liverpool.

  • As a consequence of this the following year Liverpool City Council under the sponsorship of Clr Paul Lynch - the current Local Government Minister (2008) - expunged East Ward from Liverpool's electoral map.

1993-1995 Member of Liverpool's Economic Development Unit (EDU)

1992-1993 Member of the Judging panel for the Liverpool EDU's
Business Awards: Heritage Restoration/Conservation Award.

1991-1994 Mayor Mark Latham's appointee on various Liverpool Council advisory Committees .

1988-1991 President of East Ward Progress Association - Liverpool.

Provided support to Mark Latham in attaining ALP endorsement for the first popularly elected Mayor

1986-1987 Campaign Director for the Right to Elect Our Mayor Campaign.

  • This hard fought battle won the right for Liverpool electors to elect their Mayor. An interesting story.

1985-1988 President of the Moorebank Community Association Inc

1984-1988 Foundation Committee Member of the Moorebank Community
Association - Community engagement programmes - art, youth theatre, festivals.

1983-1987 Secretary of the East Ward Progress Association

1982-1984 Foundation Board Member of local community radio 2-GLF.

1980-present Member of the East Ward Progress Association.

1977 Moved into new home in Chipping Norton - now a Liverpool citizen


Other facts:

Born Anzac Day 1950 - Burwood...

Grew up in Blakehurst : Played as a child on the river banks of the Georges River amongst the sandstone caves and cliffs far downstream from Liverpool.

Schooled at Marist Brothers Kogarah : HSC 1967

Rugby League : Played Presidents Cup with St George in 1970 & 71... played Grade with Souths in 1972-73 ( 3 First Grade games - 1st Grade Player Number 575).

Moved to Liverpool ( Chipping Norton) in 1977 - our boys played on the bushy riverbanks of the Georges River far upstream from Blakehurst.