Cr Bob Redden: Looking back and moving forward

Published on 21 September 2022

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As I take this new position as a Councillor I am reminded of our history.

Modern Australia evolved from British penal settlements in all states except South Australia, from 1788 onwards. Each state moved towards self-government with separate characteristics and constitutions, and differed in taxes on interstate trade, convict immigration, treatment of Aboriginals, pastoral and farming rights, judiciary and transport. The right of women to vote was approved first in South Australia.

Visionary thinking by Henry Parkes led to drafting of a constitution. This was accepted peacefully by the United Kingdom, approved by referenda in each state, and Australia was proclaimed 1901, with the UK sovereign as head of state.

This resulted in three tiers of government. States ceded powers to the Commonwealth of external affairs, international trade, military, quarantine, census, postal and broadcasting services, copyright and patents, immigration and international treaties.

States retained all other powers; education, policing, judiciary, schools, hospitals, roads, agriculture and fisheries, public works, sports, recreation and transport. The latter was uncoordinated and resulted in different rail gauges, now only partly standardised.  Local Government remained under state power.

The boundaries between these levels of government continues to change. State income tax powers were ceded to the Commonwealth in World War 2. Now the Commonwealth has responsibility for Medicare, but shared responsibility for health, highways, hospitals and education with much blurring of boundaries.

States have limited powers to directly raise funds (stamp duties, licenses and registrations), and Local Government has limited direct funding sources such as property rates and taxes, and parking.

Local Government in Victoria answers to the State, and depend for over half of its funding on grants from the State and Commonwealth.

We are very fortunate to call Australia home. Sectarianism based on various Christian affiliations and lodges bedevilled society and government a century ago. We all now co-exist with a growing spirit of tolerance, compromise and pragmatism.

Horsham district is attractive with fresh air, native vegetation and the Wimmera River, a safe and friendly place to raise a family.

There are opportunities to contribute to and continually improve the Horsham district. Much is happening with a wide range of sports and recreational activities, theatre and agricultural shows. The strength of these activities is underpinned by volunteers at many levels - school associations, charities, plus Apex, Lions and Rotary clubs. These make up the glue cementing the characteristics of Horsham.

It is an honour and privilege to serve on the Horsham Rural City Council, which plays a key role in the health and wellbeing of local society. The council can facilitate and support community functions, with regional linkages to the silo art trail, the Grampians, the Stick Shed and cultural museum at Rupanyup.

Importantly we can pull together as a region for better rail linkages and airport development. There are many positives in our community, and we have the opportunity to constructively build on these.