Wednesday, January 23, 2013

to pledge or not to pledge, the ethical paper pledge debate returns 12 feb

At our last meeting of 2012 the issue of the Ethical Paper Pledge and relocation of Vic Forests head office to Yarra Ranges was debated due to a notice of motion submitted by Cr Jim Child.

Cr Child’s Motion
That Council:
1) Acknowledge that its procurement policy supports sustainability, protection of the environment, corporate social responsibility and local community needs.
2) Acknowledge that it purchases copy paper in line with that procurement policy, with Australian Paper supplying almost 100% of Council’s paper, its Australian™ product line having been chosen on its environmental credentials and its alignment with our sustainable procurement commitment.
3) In recognition of items 1 and 2 above, retract from the Wilderness Society's 'Ethical Paper Pledge' and withdraw its direct involvement with that pledge.
4) Write to the VicForests Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, expressing support for facilitating the relocation of the VicForests Head Office to the Yarra Ranges municipality.

Debate lasted for some time with a clear division of new councillors and longer serving councillors. Many of the arguments put were patently incorrect but the numbers were there to see council agree to the motion with the inclusion of an additional point pertaining to FSC paper suggested by Cr McAllister (below) and agreed to by Cr Child and McCarthy (the seconder).

Cr McAllister’s suggested amendment to the motion
5. Request officers to report on options for purchasing copy paper that is Australian made and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

The vote was won and a division was called.
For: Crs McAllister, Witlox, Callanan, McCarthy and Child
Against: Crs Dunn, Cox, Cliff and Avery

I felt it important to move a rescission motion as many of the arguments put were incorrect. I am hoping that my colleagues have had time to explore the matter further and learn more about the issue. The rescission motion will be heard at council’s first meeting for 2013 on February 12.

My rescission motion:
That the resolution of Council on 11 December 2012 relating to Item 9.3 – Ethical Paper Pledge, be rescinded.

Contingent to my Notice of Motion to Rescind resolution being carried, I wish to put forward the following motion:

That Council:
1) Maintain its support of the Ethical Paper Pledge.
2) Write to VicForests to commence discussions regarding the relocation of their Head Office to the Yarra Ranges.
3) Purchase Australian made FSC certified paper when it becomes available.

In a nutshell the rescission motion seeks to maintain council’s support of the Ethical Paper Pledge, we have never received more letters of support than when we signed the pledge, a great rarity in local government.

It also seeks to ask VicForests if they want to relocate to Yarra Ranges, rather than being used a political football between Minister Walsh and Yarra Ranges. I’ve heard they don’t want to move, their staff not keen to do the commute from the inner city out to Yarra Ranges, I think it would be a sensible move to just ask them directly.

Lastly it picks up on Cr McAllister’s addition to the last motion regarding the purchase of FSC certified paper, FSC is a far more credible certification scheme, internationally recognised for certifying and labeling forests products.

In a future blog entry I’ll put up some of the debate from the December meeting, that’s enough writing for this entry.

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At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Lee Fuller said...

A smart move Samantha!
Let's really see why Cr Child put forward the motion in December without a council officers report nor any background information for all councillors to make an informed decision. Which, I have to say, was quite sloppy from a Cr who has previously been a councillor AND a past shire president AND a long time council watchdog! Cr Child's lack of understanding of process and procedure at the December Council meeting was embarrassing to say the least - for the entire council and senior management staff at the table.
If VicForests don't want to relocate to Yarra Ranges, why rescind the pledge? After all, a pledge is a solemn promise! and provides additional security to ensure that YRC actually refrains from purchasing paper made from our old growth & native forests.
I will be at the 12 Feb meeting to throw my support behind your rescision motion.
If there are others that read this post I ask that they stand in solidarity and wear green! for forests.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Lorraine Leach said...

Good on you, Samantha - don't give up. Eventually the new councillors will realise just how wrong headed Cr Child's motion was and his peer pressure tactics will gradually wear thin.
I don't believe they are all so gullible.
Lorraine Leach.


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