A Port Phillip councillor’s bid to ban fossil fuels from being advertised locally has been put on hold until there is more clarity around the definition of a “fossil fuel product”.
At Wednesday night’s St Kilda Town Hall meeting, Greens Cr Tim Baxter brought the motion aimed at banning the advertising of such products, with the intention of reducing demand.
Baxter declined to comment to *PS Port Phillip prior to the meeting.
Speaking in favour of his motion at the meeting, Baxter said he had put it forward after speaking with locals and national community groups interested in banning the advertising of products that harm the environment.
“We’ve all seen ads for coal, gas, oil and those sorts of things, that’s basically what we’re talking about here.”
The motion specified that the ban would only be “to the extent that [council] has control over such advertising”. For example, the Albert Park area and events such as the Australian Grand Prix are not within the remit of Port Phillip Council.
The meeting’s venue was one of a number of town halls that were also addressed in the motion, which proposed changes to the halls’ booking terms and conditions to allow the banning of temporary signage that may be used to advertise fossil fuel products.
It would also see fossil fuel products added to a list of sponsorship exclusions for the St Kilda Festival. Other exclusions include tobacco and cigarette products, gambling and gambling related services and pornographic products.
The supporting information provided to the public ahead of the meeting stated the ban wouldn’t stop the Council from supporting events that could benefit local businesses, for example car shows.
At the start of the meeting, a public submission from the Prosperous Port Phillip Business Advisory Group was read out, stating the motion needed further consideration to ensure it didn’t have “unintended consequences”.
It said: “The Business Advisory Group is very supportive of environmental initiatives and recognises the need to act now and make great choices to protect our planet.
“These past few years have been very difficult for our business community that have continued to work hard to restore economic activity back into the community. We don’t want to lose any of the ground we’ve made.”
Seeking clarity on the intention of the ban, Labor councillor Peter Martin asked council staff whether they could provide a definition for “fossil fuel products”.
Martin said: “My understanding is that it could mean anything produced from fossil fuels, including the clothes I’m wearing. Or is this motion referring to fossil fuels used to produce heat emitting carbon dioxide?”
Council staff replied that if Council was to pass the motion then staff would create a definition to be included in its advertising policies.
Martin later moved a procedural motion that the matter be adjourned until a clear definition of fossil fuel products was supplied.
Martin voted in favour of the adjournment, as did Heather Cunsolo, Marcus Pearl, Christina Sirakoff and Rhonda Clark, while Andrew Bond abstained.
Baxter and Louise Crawford voted against delaying the motion.
Baxter’s fellow Greens councillor, Katherine Copsey, wasn’t present at the meeting, taking a leave of absence until at least the state election, in which she is running as an Upper House candidate.
The possible ban on fossil fuel advertising will now come back to Council at an unspecified date.