THERE are certain mindsets one must be aware of before attending a meeting of a governmental body in full cry (or Muted Cry in this case). One must approach these meetings with a sense of humour. Remember, EVERYONE at the meeting is on a stage and ALL are play acting. Be amused with the one up-man-ship and one down-man-ship of the situation. Take two deep breaths and don’t take yourself too seriously.

First, do not be intimidated by the surroundings. The wonderful Greek Worship Space of the Launceston City Hall, while small, gives a certain church-like atmosphere. HE (God is the inference) might be in attendance and THEN the mayor (as surrogate deity) arrives and everyone stands. No one will shoot you if you do not stand. I always felt one should earn the respect of everyone standing upon the entrance of an Australian idol.

This standing, upon entrance of The Leader, only serves to make the arriving divinity feel power and the peasants know their place. Remember, He/She is not God… though sometimes a politician gets confused about his/her identity.

Second, ask the members of the august body to speak louder as they have learned to whisper so you can not hear them in their confusion or they want you to think you are losing your hearing.

Third, when the Chair (the one the deity sits on) defers to a member of his/her august political group for information, ask the junior deity what their position and role is and be sure to get their name. There is a certain levelling which comes about with such questions.

Fourth, be aware that deity and junior deity-lets probably know less about your subject than you do as you have studied your question carefully. They will never give an answer. Don’t expect them to. This question/answer period was never intended to assist democracy. The council meeting is merely dressage which gives the show ponies a chance to do a little prancing.

Fifth, be sure to speak very loudly into the mike so that your voice fills the room with a boom. That gives you more authority then they want you to have.

Sixth, remember the senior deity will try to stop you from finishing your question on the ground that you are only allowed a question with no preambles. Make your question first and put your preamble in last … and make it short and snappy.

Seventh, remember that nothing will happen because of your group asking many great questions. The System does not like questions asked formally and has the ability to swallow hundreds of questions whole and spit them out like an apple seed. Your questions are chaff.

Eighth and probably the most important part, be sure to make an appointment with one of the members of the council and see them in an office on their time when they don’t have to act like junior deities. They are ALL just like you and love to have a good discussion about municipal problems and they DO listen. And you will probably get something done.

The whole point is to not expect anything from a non-democratic, imperial, godly group of politicians and their minders who are forced to be at a meeting where they are required to just listen to the senior deity who may knows less … much less than you do.

Know and understand: you will always come away from such a meeting with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and swear to never vote again. Stay away from the pub after meetings like this.

There is an old hymn which puts this whole farcical meeting of council and citizens’ question time into some balance, “I look not back, God knows our fruitless efforts.”

Buck Emberg

Know and understand: you will always come away from such a meeting with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and swear to never vote again. Stay away from the pub after meetings like this.