Another day at the office - the council meeting of July 25th

Another Council meeting and another day of lost opportunities as there was no-one to address Councillors in the Public Access time slot of 9:30 to 10am where anyone can address Council on any matter not on the day's agenda. What issues might they have been addressed at Public Access today? 1) Congo Road – the status of the road used by the community to traverse private land for access to the village of Congo. Asking Council about the status of the road to Congo that cross over private property where locals f late have assembled to protest the removal of trees only to be told the road that connects Moruya to Congo is NOT Public as it traverses the property that boarders onto the Eurobodalla National Park and that Council has no control over any tree clearing on the property not do they have any control on the continued access provided to the public by the landowner who allows them to cross his private property. There was no-one from Congo asking Council why they have failed to secure a public road reserve across this private property nor was there anyone there asking to be formally advised of the details of the mining lease held on that property and what future mining might entail for long term access to Congo. It is worthwhile to note that while the community weren’t there to ask these questions a councilor who had been informed into the issue by the Congo community also failed them by not presenting the same questions as Questions on Notice. 2) The status of the Batemans Bay helipad. While Councils responses to media questions around the reasoning why the Batemans Bay helipad was moved temporarily from its site adjacent to the Batemans Bay Marina to Mackay Park were published yesterday in The Beagle there are many in the community who claim to be concerned that no permanent location has been found for the future helipad and there are many questions around the reasoning that contributed to the removal of helicopter access to the site. No-one was at Public Access to formally ask what is proposed by Council and Southern Health NSW when Mackay Park is top dressed with 1500 cubic metres of sand and not available for use as an emergency helipad. In turn there was no-one to ask what is happening with preparing shovel ready projects in readiness for upcoming grant applications nor was anyone there to ask what happened to the old Gundary Oval playground equipment that might/could be reused elsewhere in the shire at locations such as Tuross Head who have now been waiting several years for replacement, long after the new playground proposed for Sandy Point was canned.

Today Nobody addressed council on behalf of Everybody while Somebody watched the meeting via live-streaming and councillors once again failed to ask questions on behalf of Anybody

The ordinary meeting of Council started at 10am. Again we saw no-one lined up to address Council during Public Forum on matters that were on the Agenda. While the agenda was not the most stimulating we have seen it did have opportunities where the general public might have chosen to address Councillors. But once again the determinations to be made by Council on the day were left without any public address comment. The meeting opened with the Mayoral Report. This was exciting as it wasn’t on the agenda. Might it be an update or Council statement on the Batemans Bay helipad? No…. and up until The Beagle enquired with a media request no-one in the public gallery or watching the meeting via live streaming would have been the wiser as the text, projected to a screen was so small that 100% or the learned gentlemen watching the meeting from the public gallery could read it. On request Council has provided the Mayoral minute for you to read. Mayoral Minute 25/07/2017: Council’s practice, over many years, has been to prepare two separate set of minutes to reflect open session of Council and closed session of Council. The minutes of the closed session of Council have been drafted to include specific details, usually of a personal or commercial nature. The minutes of the open session of Council reflect the generic decision that has been made by the council during closed session. Advice from the Office of Local Government (OLG), received Monday 24 July 2017, indicates that this long standing practice is incorrect and the full resolution adopted by the Council in the closed part of the Council's meeting must be recorded in the open minutes of that meeting. Notwithstanding it has been a practice in many local councils. Further advice received indicates that the purpose of section 10A of the Local Government Act 1993 is to protect the confidentiality or privilege of the information upon which council relies. This intention is reflected in clause 253 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (the Regulation). This requires that where a council passes a resolution during a meeting or a part of a meeting that is closed to the public, the chairperson must make the resolution public as soon as practicable after the meeting or the relevant part of the meeting has ended. As a result, I recommend that we make all confidential minutes from this council term public, noting that we redact the names and addresses from the minutes to protect confidentiality. OLG has also advised that when framing a motion relating to a matter being considered in a closed part of a meeting, councils need to be careful to ensure that the wording of the motion does not disclose any confidential information. Going forward, Council will ensure that all minutes moved in confidential are worded in a manner that confidentiality provisions of relevant legislations are not breached. THAT: 1. The resolutions made in the confidential sessions for this council term be included in the public minutes. 2. Names and addresses to be redacted from the resolutions prior to being made public. Over the course of the meeting it became very clear that Ex- Mayor Lindsay Brown still thought he held the top position. His first mayoral delusion struck when the agenda item of recognition of two stalwarts of the Tuross Head community were being acknowledged for their contributions. The report as written was terrific and gave due praise to a couple who have now left the community after many years of tireless dedication to land care and their community. This would have been a perfect opportunity for the REAL Mayor to have given summary and tribute and even suggest that a certificate of appreciation be given. But no… ex-mayor Lindsay Brown stole the moment by taking the limelight, the stage and the opportunity to leave Mayor Innes with little option but to say she agreed with all he said. It was during his high-horsedness that ex-mayor Brown also chose to castigate those who might niggle Council by offering up the commended couple as being excellent representatives of how members of the community should go about working with council. The next agenda item was in regards to Council’s response to Councillor Constable’s Question on Notice where he had specifically asked for a specific meeting with specific representatives to talk specifically with Councillors specifically about the long term future of the Princes Highway corridor and where it might specifically be and what roles it might specifically have and what specific things need to be specifically considered now to specifically arrive at an outcome and solution. Councillor Constable sounded specifically p*ssed off in the way his specific request, that had been unanimously agreed to by his fellow councilors had been dealt with, specifically in regards to a formal submission made by Council staff that had not been endorsed by councilors. He sounded specifically p*ssed off that councillors seem to have been specifically ignored and that their request was dismissed. He noted that the submission made by Council staff was not forward thinking enough. What of Councillor Brown during all this? He was waiting in the wings for Councillor Constable to pause for breath at which he punched at his button and took the stage…. "In my recent dealings and conversations with lots of important people at a very important event that I often attend in my very important capacity I heard the following which is totally irrelevant to what Councillor Constable is on about because everything I am going to waffle on about now is to do with Albion Park and the Nowra bridge and what my important friends have quietly told me because I too am important". Eventually he stopped. In closing, reading from a prepared address, Councillor Constable reminded the meeting that the intent of the original motion was to have councilors participate. The conversations and issues to be discussed specifically would not just be about the corridors but about the role that key intersections had to play as well. At the end of his prepared statement the Mayor asked if Councillor Constable was implying he hadn’t had been included and given the opportunity for participation. Councillor Constable stuck to his guns and said yes, the councilors had not been included and he felt that they had been left on the outer. As if taking on the role of a "Perry Mason" type inquisitor the Mayor then offered a very obviously staff prepared question of Councillor Constable “Were you at the meeting with all the councilors when they met with Bronwyn Taylor ?” (NOTE: The Hon Bronwyn Taylor MLC, in her capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Deputy Premier and Southern NSW was one of the many identified as being requested by Clr Constable to attend the proposed road corridor meeting). The question was actually a new low point for the mayor as it clearly indicated that she was being fed the leading question by staff knowing full well that Councillor Constable had NOT attended this meeting. He admitted he had not been present and apolgised as he no doubt had already done previously. At this point some in the gallery were expecting the mayor to announce “I rest my case your honour”. The low point was made all the more as there was an aggression in her voice that indicated and intention of discrediting Councillor Constable. Added to this low point, that showed no support nor empathy for her fellow councilor, was the mayor's invitation to the Director of Infrastructure to offer his opinion without having been asked a question. Following his reiteration that, in his opinion, the formal submission written and presented on behalf of the Eurobodalla Council and its Councillors and ratepayers regarding the future needs of the shire was everything the councilors (and everyone else) would have asked for and would have endorsed, had they been invited to, is when it became farcical with Councillor Mayne doing a “Dorothy Dixer” and asking Director Sharpe to reiterate how terrific the South East Area Transport Strategy Group (of which he is a council representative) was an an advocacy organisation and the important role it played . In the end Councillor Constable rode through the mire (and embarrassment) of it all and as a result forced the issue that the meeting he and his fellow councillors called for in February is the meeting that they want to have and for Council staff to just get on with it and organise it. His motion with amendment is as follows: QON17/004: Resolution – Future Redevelopment of Princes Highway and Kings Highway THAT:1. The response to the question regarding Future Redevelopment of Princes Highway and Kings Highway raised by Councillor Phil Constable be received and noted. 2. Council report against its advocacy work to seek progressive upgrades to the Princes and Kings Highway when it reports against the adopted 2017-21 Delivery Program and 2017-18 Operational Plan each six months. 3. Council write to Minister Constance thankfully acknowledging his response and expressing gratitude for his works on behalf of our Shire’s residents. Further, that Council accept Minister Constance invitation for a meeting in September and again request those persons nominated in the adopted Question on Notice 17/002 to attend. The next great performance moment for ex-mayor Lindsay Brown came when he once again stole the thunder of the Mayor by giving a grand speech on his association with Fergus Thompson and the family and the offer of an annual award being announced. The Mayor, in this circumstance, should have been the one making the tributes and offering the back-grounding and celebration of the Ferg's contribution and passion to local heritage and of the announcement of a newly created heritage award but no…. Clr Brown slickly grabbed the spotlight and once again left the mayor wanting for anything to add. The Moruya Flood report was deferred today for a fortnight as it was advised that due to a hiccup by Australia Post to deliver notifications to those who will be affected by the report more time was being given for the to be able to present to Council. The next we hear of ex-mayor Brown was when he added his two-cents worth to castigating the RMS for not listening to Council’s idea of having two turning right lanes at the Kings Highway / Princes Highway roundabout for vehicles turning south to cross the bridge having come from Nelligen that would reduce the considerable queuing witnessed on the Kings Highway during peak times. It was obvious that this public outburst irked staff present as they would probably wish that their “dirty laundry” (or frustration) wasn’t being publicly aired. Councillor Brown had little to say for the next ten minutes or so as Policy stuff was moved and carried but like a keen Jack Russel his light was on ready to move the next item even when the last item hadn’t been concluded. And what was it he was so keen to be seen to be moving? The proposal to name the exhibition space within the Moruya Library extension the Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre. And the acceptance of a very generous donation of $300,000 from Mr Sellers Having finally been allowed to move the recommendation to accept the naming and the donation ex-mayor Brown was back under the lime-lights waxing lyrical in a performance that would have the other two amateur thespians in the room wanting to cast him in a leading role of their next pantomime. I for one look forward to reviewing the footage of this performance when it becomes available on Council's website video archives. It was good to hear from Councillor Pollock towards the end of the meeting in regards to Council’s support and endorsement of the Sculpture On Clyde exhibition and the acquisition of public art. The Batemans Bay Business Chamber are to be commended for their continued efforts to lift the bar and the profile of Batemans Bay and to lead their own way. Councillor Pollock’s recommendation that Council staff build a good partnership of understanding and cooperation with the Business chamber in regards to future public art acquisitions hopefully won’t be lost.

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