Councillors have voted in support of next Friday’s planned student strike for climate change and given permission to the Shire of Aug-usta-Margaret River’s chief executive for staff to take the day off to attend.
The late decision on Wednesday night was supported by all councillors except Ian Earl.
Stressing he did not want to be depicted as a climate change denier – which he was not – Cr Earl said he did not think the council had the authority to make such a statement on behalf of residents without consultation.
“It’s not for us to endorse what leave’s approved by the CEO … that’s the big white line we shouldn’t step over,” he said.
“We should be urging our young people to stay in school and study science, because it’s science that is probably going to lead the way out of this.”
Shire president Pam Townshend moved the motion, in what was her second-last council meeting before stepping down.
She said she hoped to see a big gathering in the heart of Margaret River next Friday and students would learn about “civics and democracy”.
“I think they’ll learn more than many, many days at school,” Cr Townshend said.
The president noted the Shire had not yet called a “climate emergency”. “It is urgent, the climate emergency a lot of councils across the country are now declaring,” she said.
“A public strike is a big way to bring it into the public’s attention.”
Deputy president Julia Meldrum said she and her daughter would attend and she backed the right of parents to give their children leave for the day.