[By Dave Holmes] One agenda item at the July 8 Moreland Council meeting concerned Green Left Weekly’s Annual Comedy Debate on July 24 at the Brunswick Town Hall. The organisers were seeking two things: a waiver of the hiring fee and a waiving of the requirement for several security guards. Councillor Lita Gillies moved the motion encompassing these requests which was later split into two two separate motions.
As Lita Gillies explained in moving the motion, the GLW Comedy Debate has become a Moreland institution on the left, with most of the audience coming from the municipality and environs.
Over the years, GLW has sometimes received town halls for free, other times it has paid the reduced community rate. And every year since the policy was introduced, it has been granted a waiver on the security guard requirement.
In the event the hiring fee waiver was denied. The vote was 7 to 3 with only Sue Bolton, Lita Gillies and Oscar Yildiz voting for. (Embattled right-wing ALP councillor Michael Teti was absent.)
But the security guard waiver was passed 6 to 4. Voting for it were Sue Bolton (Socialist Alliance), Helen Davidson (independent), Lita Gillies (ALP), John Kavanagh (independent), Lenka Thompson (Greens) and Oscar Yildiz (ALP); voting against were Meghan Hopper (ALP), Sam Ratnam (Greens), Lambros Tapinos (ALP) and Rob Thompson (Liberal).
Socialist Alliance has long argued that the current town halls security policy is wrong and should be scrapped. The requirement to have security guards at all town hall functions unless a specific waiver is obtained is extremely onerous for any non-profit group. GLW would have been forced to pay around $1000 to hire security guards for the comedy debate — a considerable hit on the budget for a fundraising night.
A much better policy would be to have no mandatory requirement but council officers would have the right to require security if there were reasonable grounds for concern. In the case of a dispute, function organisers would be able to request council to vote on the matter.
You can check out the proceedings on the video of the council meeting on the Moreland Council website. Dave Holmes made a contribution at the end of question time on Part I and Lita Gillies presentation and the following debate is on Part II.
And we urge all those interested in progressive comedy to consider coming along on July 24. See the advertisement above for booking details.