Revival likely to dropping prayer

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THERE is almost certain to be a revival of newly-elected councillor Anthony Marsh’s failed bid to drop the prayer that is said before each Mornington Peninsula Shire Council meeting.

Cr Marsh was stopped from being able to introduce the move as “urgent business” at the first meeting of the new council last Monday (23 November).

He has also been criticised for not including his plans to remove the prayer in his election campaign (see Letters Page 12).

Cr Marsh was supported by Crs Paul Mercurio, Sarah Race, Kerri McCafferty and the mayor Despi O’Connor. Councillors against allowing him to move the prayer be dropped were David Gill, Steve Holland, Lisa Dixon, Hugh Fraser, Debra Mar and Antonella Celi.

Before the meeting but too late for his move to be included on the agenda, Cr Marsh emailed his colleagues saying he knew he ran the risk of “being controversial in my first 48 hours in the role”, but felt the new council’s first meeting was the “most appropriate time” to advocate dropping the prayer (“Urgent bid to change 150-year protocol” The News 24/11/20).

In a comment on The News’s Facebook page Cr Marsh said reading the prayer before council meeting was “discriminatory and it has no place in the workplace”.

His campaign to drop the prayer is likely to be revived in a notice of motion and could lead to wider public consultation and comment.

Saying a prayer before council meetings goes back to the introduction of local government at Mornington about 150 years.

The prayer that has been said before Mornington Peninsula Shire meetings reads:

“Almighty God, we humbly seek Thy blessings upon this Council.  Direct and prosper its deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory and the true welfare of the people of the Mornington Peninsula Shire.  Give us the strength and courage to make wise decisions with grace and dignity.  Amen.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 1 December 2020

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