Tony Briffa resigns from Council to focus on human rights
Former Hobson’s Bay mayor and local councillor Tony Briffa has resigned from the council after six years in public service. Briffa said it was time to renew focus on family and human rights issues both locally and overseas.
Briffa made headlines by becoming the first intersex mayor in local government. Briffa was mayor of Hobson’s Bay from 2011-12.
In a resignation letter, Briffa highlighted achievements in regards to issues of gender identity rights and a history of serving the community well when it came to issues surrounding the environment, local community facilities and industrial pollution.
“There will probably never be a good time to leave the council, but after getting married last year I would like to spend more time with my family,” Briffa said.
“I would also like time to focus on my human rights work in Australia and abroad, and to restarting the career I put on hold while devoting all my energy to the council and local community.”
Read Briffa’s resignation in full below.
Later today I will be submitting my resignation from the Hobsons Bay City Council effective as of the date my replacement is declared.
It has been a tremendous honour serving the community I love as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor, and I am extremely grateful to the community for the huge support I have enjoyed over the years. To be re-elected as an independent councillor with such an overwhelming vote in 2012 after my term as Mayor was very humbling. I have always focused on being a community representative and advocate first and foremost, and I think the community recognises this.
The decision to resign hasn’t been easy, and I have considered and discussed this with my family, friends and various community leaders for some months now. Indeed, I would have tendered my resignation at the end of last year had it not been for the childcare issue that I wanted to see resolved. There will probably never be a good time to leave the council, but after getting married last year I would like to spend more time with my family. I would also like time to focus on my human rights work in Australia and abroad, and to restarting the career I put on hold while devoting all my energy to the council and local community.
As I reflect on some of the highlights during my time on the council I think about the work I’ve done for people with disabilities, GLBTI people, elderly people and the multicultural community. I think about the improvements to the Altona and Seaholme Foreshore, many local reserves, local footpaths and shopping precincts. I think about new community facilities like the Altona North Community Library and Laverton Hub, about the families and kids I’ve met along the way, and special events like the Altona Beach Festival, Go West (as part of the Midsumma Festival), representing the city at the Pride March, and the various events I held as Mayor for people with disabilities and the elderly.
In my pursuit of a fair go for local residents I have also been willing to raise concerns about local industry and their adverse impacts on our health and environment. I am pleased I successfully fought against the use of Methyl Bromide in the area, and raised the profile of issues such as air quality in Altona, Altona North and Brooklyn, and safety and environmental concerns from Exxon Mobil’s Altona Refinery. Similarly, I have also supported appropriate local industry and am glad I was able to push for the council’s membership of LeadWest and the annual Hobsons Bay Business Awards. It is also safe to say that state governments have been in my sights too, with me public raising concerns about public transport, police numbers, roads, community services and community infrastructure.
I have always believed in openness, transparency and accountability and am pleased some of the reforms I introduced in the council includes podcasting meetings, regularly disclosing councillor expenses on the council website, and introducing a process to ensure confidential material can be released when it is no longer deemed confidential. I tabled two motions in the council recently that I still hope will still be adopted; to review public question time at council meetings to allow for community participation, and to create a committee to oversee the Citizen of the Year Awards. I believe both initiatives will help increase community participation in civic affairs.
I wish the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors well for the remainder of their terms of office.
Finally, I thank my wife, family, friends, Hobsons Bay Residents Association, Altona Lions, Hobsons Bay Maltese Association, other local community groups, local businesses and residents for their support through the years.