Victoria councillors are making it more difficult for people to run for their jobs. Fair enough, but they should say so.
They'll never convince me that there's any other motive behind the increase in the number of nominators people need to run for council and the deposit fee that they must put up.
They'll never convince me that they're only trying to discourage frivolous candidates from coming forward or to make it easier for the people casting ballots to appreciate whatever issues matter.
As one for whom frivolity obviously has considerable attraction, I see no danger to the democratic process or its outcome in frivolous candidates. Some people seem to think that electing city councillors is as serious a business as choosing a pope; as if dealing in sewage is as important as dealing in souls.
Those who argue that having too many candidates putting forward too many ideas diverts attention from really important issues are making some pretty arrogant assumptions. They're also showing contempt for the intelligence of electors.
Isn't it healthy for our system of governments when election campaigns bring out issues that those who govern us would rather keep hidden? Isn't it healthy, at least for public order, that those who bawl slogans as part of mobs at other times be allowed a platform once every few years in which to speak directly to voters?
All-candidates meetings should be just that. The convenience of television producers or the size of stages in school auditoriums shouldn't dictate who shall speak.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that convicted criminals or the certifiably insane should be able to stand for election to municipal office -- there's time enough for them to become either before their term runs out -- but if you can vote, you should be able to stand.
Even, like that charming lady who ran the last time in Victoria, on your head. That must afford, at least, a different perspective.
I think all the homeless people on our streets should run for council. They mightn't find a place to live, but they might find, in city hall, a place to work -- which would discourage a few I know from running.
I don't think the age of prospective candidates should work against them any more than their sexual peculiarities or that they have senseless pursuits like golf. There was a time when being an owner of property was a prerequisite for candidates because that implied education and intelligence -- factors that have long since ceased to matter in our parliaments and city halls.
When the fourth Druk Gyelpo of Bhutan decided to democratize his country, it was decided that candidates for parliament should have a university education. Otherwise, it was argued, the country would "suffer from the erratic decisions of unsuitable elected leaders" and because those successful "must be able to understand and analyze voluminous reports and proposals" and "conceive original thoughts and ideas."
How many Victoria councillors, I wonder, are capable of all that?
In Iran, the Guardian Council, dominated by clerics, none of whom is noted for standing on his head or even smiling, has disqualified thousands of declared candidates, especially all the women who wanted to run in 2004.
There, in a twist that must appeal to some on Victoria council, two years in parliament guarantees candidacy.
I'd like to bring back the practice in ancient Greece where election was by lottery to ensure that ordinary citizens had a chance against well-born, influential candidates -- the sort who live in the Uplands today and have a pithy quotation for any occasion.
I'd also like to bring back the ancient Greeks' practice of ostracism. New Victorians, like old Athenians, should be able to scratch on potsherds the names of elected officials who don't live up to expectations and the "winner" when votes are counted would be banished from the city for 10 years.
Those sourpusses on council should recognize that their city hall looks as if it came from Disneyland. They should all put on Mickey Mouse ears and practise frivolity.
And maybe the only qualification for candidates should be an ability to stand on one's head.