Mayor refuses animal debate as circus comes to town

20 Mar
A lion roams in its cage at Stardust Circus, Southport. Picture: Sam Burbury

A lion roams in its cage at Stardust Circus, Southport. Picture: Sam Burbury

By Sam Burbury, Bond University Journalism Student

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate has been accused of being undemocratic by refusing to enter debate about circuses with exotic animals performing on council land.

Councillor Jan Grew called for a ban on circuses using council land to be reinstated but Cr Tate refused to allow debate at last week’s full council meeting.

Cr Tate said he was acting on the advice of council CEO Dale Dickson.

“The CEO advised the issue was best referred to the responsible committee before returning to council for consideration,” he said.

Circus 10Cr Tate will now await a committee report on the matter, but said he can’t see the point of discussing the controversial ban for a third time.

“In the absence of new information, the merits of further debate are questionable,” he said.

He also said that strong community support made circuses an important part of the city’s events and entertainment.

“If there wasn’t a demand for circuses you wouldn’t expect them to return,” he said.

Since its introduction by former mayor Ron Clarke in July 2009, the ban has been a constant source of disagreement among councillors.

Cr Tate used his casting vote to overturn the ban in January last year when a council vote was deadlocked.

Protests followed throughout last year, with the Cr Tate forced to eject Cr Grew from one meeting before passing a resolution halting debate on the topic for six months.

Cr Grew and Cr Tate both believe they have the majority of council support.

Cr Grew said she couldn’t believe anyone would oppose reintroducing the ban.

“These circuses are archaic,” she said.

“Children don’t need to see them [exotic animals] there; it’s unnatural.

“These animals should be left to roam free.”

Animal Liberation Queensland president Chay Neal said animal circuses were old fashioned and no longer relevant.

“It’s certainly been shown as a really out-dated form of entertainment,” he said.

“Some of the best circuses, like Cirque Du Soleil, don’t use any animals at all.

“It’s all human performance and they are really spectacular.”

He said that activists would protest outside Stardust Circus at Mitchell Park in Southport this Saturday.

No one from Stardust Circus was available for comment.

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