209 – Local government and humour – sometimes you just have to laugh.

Posted by Whistler                                                                                               400 words

Geelong Mayor

Image – The Geelong Advertiser, 2 April 2016.

There have been a number of humorous posts in the life of Local Government Utopia. And sometimes you do just have to laugh. Humour is often used in a uniquely Australian way to make a point. Often the point is quite serious, a I think it usually is in the case of local government.

For example, whilst the Mayor of Geelong, Darryn Lyons (aka ‘Daz’), parades as a figure of fun, the Council he leads is far from funny. If media reports are accurate, it is about to be sacked for bullying, poor leadership, and a general lack of competence. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was a mistimed April Fools’ day joke.  Many of his constituents think he is marvellous.  Some find this surprising but I think it goes to a fundamental and unfortunate truth about how local government is viewed by many in the community

A colleague related a story to me about the Mayor of Geelong.   Some close friends of hers are teachers who live in Geelong.  They think that Darryn Lyons is an excellent leader of the council.  They believe he has ‘put Geelong on the map’.  When my colleague asked how they would feel about the President of their school council parading in the local community in costumes and doing outrageous things, they said ‘don’t be stupid’ – a school council President doing that would bring ridicule on the school and undermine the confidence of parents in the ability of the school to provide discipline and scholarly learning.

So what do they expect from the leader of the council?  Obviously, amusement and entertainment are high on the list.  Local government has allowed itself to be reduced to a source of merriment.

In the spirit of merriment, and hopefully in a constructive vein, some of the more humorous posts have covered what Gordon Ramsay might say (the local government nightmare!), decision hats for councillors and managers (which one are you wearing?), sayings that define council culture (look, some low hanging fruit!), the potential for augury (if it was good enough for the Romans …), what local government would look like if it was a car (Hyundai, Leyland, Volvo, Alfa or Tesla?), a parody on Australian Rules football (they really should change the rules), and the answers to the quiz (that didn’t happen, by the way).

Sometimes we need humour and parody to realise things that are important about  everyday matters that we are otherwise unable to see.

Have a look and laugh if you dare.