Dear Beagle Editor, Following the revelation by the Broulee and Mossy Point Community presentation to Council during Public Access this week that 7000m2 of native vegetation specifically earmarked and agreed to by the community for public reserve in the new subdivison was clear felled by the developer I thought your readers might be interested in some history. How the Broulee community were mislead
The Broulee community were not happy about the medium to high density subdivision proposed, but were told many times by some councillors (in council meetings and on radio and in newspapers) that “There is no alternative” and that not approving this Biodiversity Certification process would destroy the developers.
But this was not true, and all councillors and senior managers were well aware that this was not true, long before they started stating this publicly.
They were also being repeatedly corrected behind the scenes by other councillors while they were saying this publicly, but ignored the other councillors, and even abused them publicly.
The reason this was not true is because there was a much simpler alternative, where the developer and rate payers didn’t need to fork out around $3.4 million dollars to council (roughly $1.86 million from rate payers money and $1.6 million from these residential land owners) or burdening ratepayers with a ‘perpetual’ debt, or lock up community lands.
What ratepayers were also not being told is that Bio-certification would not cap the cost to ratepayers at $1.86 million. If this fund runs dry council can then divert our rates money in to keep topping it up (forever!)
The alternative is called Bio-banking, which allows the developer to simply do his/her own offsets on his/her own land, and/or purchase offsets from a rural land owner if needed (at no cost to rate payers)
A formal question was given to council management through councillor Pollock (and copied to all councillors) many months earlier, asking if this ‘Bio-Banking was a viable alternative’?
The answer (copied to all councillors) was “Yes, and the option to utilise the Biobanking pathway remains available to any of the Broulee Developers who choose to pursue it.”
and that staff just preferred Bio-diversity Certification.
Was this because around 95% of the money needed for Bio-diversity Certification (in perpetual annual payments) was actually going to councils administrative departments? As council documents revealed?
With less than 5% to be spent on actual environmental works!
The developer was also asked why they did not choose the much easier and cheaper alternative, and they explained that council management wanted this choice.
The whole purpose of Biodiversity Certification is supposedly to lock up and care for the same vegetation type land elsewhere (as an offset) but even this was a sham. The vast majority of the land supposedly being locked up (council land) was already supposedly locked up in previous ‘perpetual’ agreements. So ratepayers and the land owners were simply being robbed, to apparently benefit councils administration (with the blessing of the State government)
So anyway, when this was approved I put in a code of conduct against Councillor Pollock. The whole story was not being told to the community about the options nor the fact that there were many questions still unanswered of the proposed process and how councillors who were challenging the questionable process were being treated. Council, it seemed, were manipulating what the community were being told and withholding key relevant information.
The case was seemingly open and shut. We had amassed many of the media statements, and even an ABC recording of Councillor Pollock unequivocally stating that “there was no alternative” (link to this below)
So it was an eye opener to read the decision of councils paid mediator to the code of conduct that was raised against Councillor Pollock.
Despite having to admit that this was indeed a serious breach she stated that no action would be taken against Councillor Pollock (or other councillors who were also misleading) or Senior Management (including the GM) who also failed to correct the false public statements.
The mediator merely chose “counselling” of councillor Pollock, and also stated that “I do not consider that those attending the (council) meeting or indeed the wider community would have in fact been mislead by Councillor Pollock’s claims that ”there is no alternative-no other game in town” as it is well known throughout the community that there are other options and Councillor Pollocks words are merely his opinion of what he sees as the most viable option.”
Above: extract from letter received back in regard to Code of Conduct
So apparently its OK to knowingly advise council and the wider community of mere opinion that could be deemed "misleading" by some person somewhere who might know or discover it is false? This affront to logic also defies Councillor Pollock's unequivocal public statements, and we could find no instance where the community were ever told there were any alternatives (just the opposite) So how can this mediator state that the existence of alternatives was “well known”?
The council friendly local media were also apparently very careful not to allow this alternative to be mentioned, despite attempts by many to get this published.
So how is any of that relevant anyway?
i.e. If councillors knowingly mislead the community and are repeatedly warned they are misleading and continue to do so and all Senior Management and the GM allow them to continually mislead without once correcting them then how is this in any way acceptable?
If a State or Federal Minister or bureaucrat is proven to have KNOWINGLY mislead in parliament then they are expected to resign. Why does this not apply in our council?
Councillor Pollock even continued to make this false statement (even in a council meeting) AFTER he was supposedly corrected and ‘Counselled’ by the mediator!
The mediator gave no examples of any alternatives being made public, forbade any appeal or questioning of the decision, and tried to insinuate that I was not allowed to make this public.
“I remind you that information about code of conduct complaints and the management and investigation of code of conduct complaints is to be treated as confidential and is not to be disclosed except as may be otherwise specifically required or permitted under the Procedures.”
On checking the legislation and challenging her on this she had to admit that I was allowed.
The mediators which council are choosing to use are a pre-chosen group from SEROC (South East Regional Organisation of Councils) Now called (CBRJO) Which is run by fellow bureaucrats and the executive.
Anyone else get the feeling that the system might be biased in favour of The System?
Readers should also recall that around 5200 residents petitioned against both the ‘whole’ LEP and Biodiversity Certification together, and were ignored. Then 11000 signatures against the rate rises (also ignored)
The definition of ‘Corrupt conduct’ includes “acting dishonestly or unfairly, or breaching the public trust” (and includes) “Maladministration” which includes “making a decision and/or taking action that is unlawful” and “Serious and substantial waste of public money” which includes “Absolute-where the waste is regarded as significant” (such as $1.86 million for example?) What a disgraceful institution. Damien Rogers Moruya