Voting blocs pose danger
There is a real danger in voting for groups of candidates running together across multiple wards in this month's Greater Bendigo council election.
I worked in Sydney for five years and I saw the danger caucussing can do to a community. By caucussing, I mean groups of like-minded elected councillors getting together before a council meeting and deciding which way to vote on certain issues.
If this bloc, which is pretty much the equivalent of a local political party, had a majority, it stifled debate and stifled transparency and took the community backwards.
It made it almost impossible for the community to be represented properly and fairly, and, in many cases, caused chaos and forced the state government to step in.
It is the first step in the partisan politicisation of council, and that never, ever ends well.
This is the last thing Bendigo needs after having ratepayers' money used regularly over the past few years for legal fights between councillors.
Anthony Radford, Bendigo
Film festival’s reputation takes a hit
I will admit I have a soft spot for the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival, it's a fantastic example of what community can achieve in a picturesque setting.
I want to see CLIFF to continue to do its good work supporting artists and the community, but there still is work to be done regarding the Vaxxed film to repair the damage done to health and the festival’s credibility.
I propose the best way forward is to dump David Thrussell, the festival director, and be honest about what's been going on and acknowledge that it was a mistake to play the film.
Castlemaine has the lowest rates of immunisation for two-year-olds in the state and it has been explained by the most credible voices on health that playing the film was a public health disaster.
The Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon, Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance director Professor Peter McIntyre, Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Michael Moore and others all said the same thing - it's a terrible idea.
People understand this and also understand that goodwill built over time, built by both community and artists, is being abused by CLIFF to push individual agendas.
It’s exactly that goodwill that CLIFF, which has given the film credibility by being endorsed with the CLIFF name and a platform for a national premiere, has damaged.
As it stands CLIFF, through Mr Thrussell's words to the media and the media releases, is still endorsing Vaxxed and also perpetuating a damaging narrative with many unsubstantiated accusations that feeds anti-vaxxers’ world view.
The discourse from CLIFF through Mr Thrussell has opened the door for writer and director Andrew Wakefield to say it was terrorism, enabled by the government, which led to film being cancelled.
This is a narrative that is currently being exploited by anti-vaxxers globally and one which needs to be corrected.
There needs to be distance made between CLIFF and Mr Thrussell/Andrew Wakefield/Vaxxed and this will require integrity and leadership.
Mr Thrussell, representing CLIFF, has not acted with integrity and professionalism during this and for these reasons he should go so CLIFF can continue.
No one forced the festival to dump Vaxxed, it was CLIFF that cancelled it because they made a serious misjudgement of the predictable controversy.
The committee should select films that they are confident with defending in public and screening.