Council divided over 'Yes' vote for same-sex marriage

Tweed councillors Reece Byrnes, Chris Cherry, Mayor Katie Milne and Ron Cooper are supporting the Yes campaign for same-sex marriage.
Tweed councillors Reece Byrnes, Chris Cherry, Mayor Katie Milne and Ron Cooper are supporting the Yes campaign for same-sex marriage. Aisling Brennan

TWEED Shire councillors are once again in dispute as they disagree over whether to publicly support the same-sex marriage campaign.

Councillors on Thursday voted 4:3 in support of Mayor Katie Milne's proposal to hoist a rainbow flag or banner outside the Murwillumbah and Tweed chambers for the duration of the non-binding postal survey, which closes at 6pm on November 7.

They also voted to host a public meeting to promote the 'Yes' vote.

The motion followed that of Lismore City Council, which raised the rainbow flag outside its chambers last week.

But immediately after the meeting, conservative councillors Warren Polglase, James Owen and Pryce Allsop, who voted against the proposal, filed a rescission motion to overturn the decision, which will be debated in an extraordinary meeting at 5.30pm on Wednesday, September 27 at the Murwillumbah Chambers.

This will be the third issue since June that has divided councillors, after they hit an impasse over the filming of Aquaman at Hastings Point and the Gold Coast Airport master plan.

Arguing against public advocacy of the Yes campaign, Liberal councillor James Owen said public support of any one side of the debate would be against the role of local government.

"We're talking about how council should be advocating and promoting one side of the argument,” he said.

"I was elected to make decisions on essential services for the community.

"This isn't going to unite the community, it's going to divide it.

"We deliver roads, rates and rubbish and where this motion should be is in the rubbish.”

Cr Polglase also slammed the decision, arguing it wasn't the council's responsibility to tell the community how they should vote.

"I have concerns for council to be a vehicle to push a certain message out to the community which has not had any consultation whatsoever,” he said.

"I have heard in this chamber about bottom-up consultation, this is top-down consultation.”

But Cr Milne said it was the council's role to "support human rights”.

"Our role of council is to advocate for our community,” she said.

"It's not unusual for us to do that. We advocate to State and Federal government for police and hospitals, so I don't know why we can't stand up for our community to make them feel loved and included.”

Marriage equality campaigner Peter Waters said the council's support would show the Tweed's LGBTQI community they were valued.

Topics:  postal survey rainbow flag same sex marriage vote tweed shire council

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