By Claire Ottaviano
A PUSH to see alcoholic drinks removed from the City of Swan Council bar was defeated 4/11 at last week’s ordinary Council meeting.
Councillor Jennifer Catalano said she moved the motion on request of residents.
“Alcohol paid by ratepayers shouldn’t be provided to Council or staff in the course of fulfilling their duties,” she said.
“Alcohol can reduce inhibitions, it can make people more emotional, more silly, loud, it can make people more aggressive.
“Alcohol can inhibit rational thinking and speaking.”
The Council bar is stocked with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for councillors to have a beverage with their meal or following a meeting.
Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, about $3500 was spent on drinks, alcoholic and not, for the bar.
Crs Tanya Richardson, Ian Johnson and Claire Scanlan supported the motion.
“The issue lies with public perception and what the ratepayers think,” Cr Johnson said.
“It’s not a large amount of money but I think the time has come for us to start paying for it ourselves.
“I regard Council meetings as work, I do not drink before working or during work and this is work.
“I think there are benefits for drinking after Council meetings but we should pay for it ourselves.”
Cr Mel Congerton and ten others disagreed.
“I received an email from a lady who said ‘I detest the use of ratepayer funds for alcohol, it needs to stop’,” he said.
“That may be the opinion of one or two ratepayers, but I beg the question if those residents have written to State and Federal Parliament and asked them to shut their bars because if you get an invitation to Parliament House you sit there with a three course meal and a glass of wine.
“Does it give you a division of Council if you have alcohol prior to a meeting?
“I don’t think so.
“Does it give you division of Council if you go to the bar at the end of the night?
“I don’t think so.”
Cr Congerton said based on $3500 a year, which also included consumption by the City’s Bush Fire Advisory Committee, the alcohol portion of the bar cost the City $18.75 a week.
Despite the strong opposition, most councillors who spoke against the motion stated they rarely or never drank alcohol before meetings, but would sometimes partake in an after meeting drink while conversing with other councillors and staff.