'REALLY BAD': Council slammed for controversial $200K idea

·News Editor
·3-min read

A Melbourne council has been blasted over a plan to spend $200,000 of ratepayers' money for the Rainbow Tick accreditation that deems the council LGBTQIA+ friendly. 

Port Phillip Council will vote at a meeting on Wednesday whether or not to push forward with the plan that will officially recognise the council as safe and inclusive. 

However, critics consider the campaign a waste of money with the council already known for being LGBTQIA+ friendly with a rainbow road unveiled in St Kilda in 2018 along with the council hosting an annual pride march. 

 Former Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss (left) poses with Dolly Diamond at the unveiling of St Kilda's rainbow road.
Former Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss unveils St Kilda's rainbow road with Dolly Diamond in 2018. Source: AAP

Bella d’Abrera, from the Institute of Public Affairs, told 3AW radio ratepayers' dollars could be better spent elsewhere and dubbed the plan as "really just virtue-signalling". 

Greens Councillor Katherine Copsey is putting forward the motion at Wednesday's meeting to seek Rainbow Tick accreditation, a process that takes one to two years.

The cost of a project worker, training and the backfill for staff to undertake training on how to achieve the accreditation will have a price tag of about $200,000, an outline of the council meeting agenda states

Accreditation a 'waste of money'

Dr d’Abrera said Port Phillip was an "incredibly woke" council and renowned for being allies of the LGBTQIA+ community already.

She told 3AW the money could be better spent after the council area lost about $20 million in revenue in the 2019-20 financial year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

People sit on the sand at St Kilda beach on a sunny day.
There is a call for Port Phillip Council to clean up St Kilda. Source: Getty Images

“What is the tick going to do? How is it going to help people?” Dr d’Abrera said.

“It’s really just virtue-signalling. It’s saying ‘we are LGBTQI friendly’ which we already know.

“Ratepayers are getting absolutely nothing for their money here. It’s literally just a tick.”

One resident, who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, said the initiative was a good idea, but agreed money could be better spent.

They told the Port Phillip Leader the council was already at the forefront when it came to inclusivity. 

"They fly the rainbow flag, light up the town hall in rainbow colours. This is a great idea, but it can wait," they said.

Another commented on Facebook it was a "good initiative".

"Change is required to break down barriers, this starts at the local level," they said.

"It's not a huge investment in the grand scheme."

Money better spent on St Kilda 'wasteland'

Dr d’Abrera made alternative suggestions for the $200,000 and said beachside suburb St Kilda had "rapidly declined" with a third of the shops now empty.

"It's a wasteland – there's sort of tumbleweeds – it's really bad," she told 3AW. 

"Surely, surely commonsense tells you that the council should be looking at that and doing something about the loss of livelihoods.

"There's no life, the life has gone out of the place altogether. There's Fitzroy Street – it has always had a bit of a problem with homeless and drug abuse and that's now spilled over into Acland Street."

Dr d’Abrera encouraged people to attend the meeting in an attempt to veto the motion going forward. 

She added the Rainbow Tick should not be a priority for council and it was not giving ratepayers value for money. 

Port Phillip Council is set to vote on the issue at a meeting on April 7.

The council would not comment until the issue had been voted on. 

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