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Back to work for Councillors Feb 13th

It’s back to work for Councillors on February 13th and the first order of business is a Dorothy Dixer from Councillor Mayne with the set up question of : Could you please advise what constructive actions our Council is taking to address the impacts of domestic cats on native wildlife, and what else could be done, including lobbying the NSW Government to legislate for a curfew on cats? This gives the Council staff the opportunity to respond with their accomplishments of Catbibs, desexing month etc etc…. Unfortunately it is the only Question On Notice; as if everything in Council was running so brilliantly that there is barely a question to be asked. Sadly the community have been asking the Councillors a host of questions that seem to either fall on deaf ears or are filtered out during briefings to the point where the question never makes it to the council chamber it is determined behind closed doors that the questions are best dealt with … behind closed doors. As you discover, reading the agenda, there are no Notices of Motion at Next Tuesday’s meeting either. What an accomplishment that represents for our Council. To have everything running so perfectly that there is basically no reason for a Councillor to attend a meeting other than to be there as a token rubber stamp endorsing the stream of mostly unread burdensome staff reports. Next Tuesday has little demand of their consideration and seeks only their stamp (or chop as the Chinese say)

The next order of business is to determine if Council wants to join with other local councils in a joint committee (no, not that sort of joint) that can then lobby the State Government at a regional level. Don’t get up to make tea while this report and recommendation, under the pen of the general manager, is discussed as it will be all over before you leave the room with at least the predictable seven councillors raising their hands in unison as if pulled skyward by hidden silken strings. Next item of business will be the conference attendance nominations for 2018 whereby councilors determine who will attend which conference around the country. Both the Tourism and the Australia Local Government Women’s Association conferences will see Nathan put her hand up as she has a foot in both camps. The Roads Congress and the National General Assembly will see Lindsay Brown jumping up and down saying “me sir, me sir” because he likes to rub shoulders and drop names. Thompson will take the coastal conference because he is now “the man” on such things and Pollock will take Regional Development because he always has. This will leave Flood Plains to the others who will all be hesitant as they know that all hell is going to break loose later in the year when the Eurobodalla planning department try to rewrite the Moruya Floodplain strategy and introduce new zoning constraints. The lure of the Gold Coast might gain the attention of Tait. Irrespective as to who goes the community expects value for money and to read solid reports of the conferences. The community also expects that the councilors representing Eurobodalla and its community take something with them to these conferences to contribute and go with an absolute understanding and grounding of the Eurobodalla circumstance so that they can best glean from what they see and hear, returning with fresh ideas and solutions. The details of the principle conferences are as follows for those who are keen in following such matters: The LGNSW Tourism Conference is being held on 12-14 March 2018 in Parkes, NSW. The conference gives Councillors and Council staff the opportunity to meet, listen to experts and peers, and find out how other councils are engaging and managing their tourism industry. The registration cost is $770 or $2230 for a group of three delegates. The Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) NSW Conference is being held on 15-17 March 2018 in Gundagai, NSW. The conference theme is ‘Celebrating Rural Women’. The event will focus on supporting and understanding the constraints that women in Local Government face in rural and remote communities. The registration cost for the Conference is $1070. The Floodplain Management Australia National Conference is being held on 29 May –1 June 2018 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) in Broadbeach, QLD. The conference theme is “Waterways of Success: Developing flood resilience in our communities”, with focus on Australian and international achievements in flood risk management, with practical examples from the Gold Coast’s network of waterways, rivers, creeks, lakes, canals and coastline. The registration cost is $1050 if paid by 23 March 2018

The NSW Local Roads Congress is being held on 4 June 2018 at State Parliament House in Sydney. Registration for Councillors attending this conference is free with a paying delegate. The Director Infrastructure Services will be attending the Congress as the paying delegate.

The National General Assembly (NGA) is being held on 17-20 June 2018 at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. This event provides a unique opportunity for Local Government to engage directly with the Federal Government, to develop national policy and to influence the future direction of our councils and our communities. The registration cost is $969 if paid by 4 May 2018.

It is noted that accommodation to these conferences is restricted to a maximum NRMA 4 ½ star rating and where possible at the conference venue to avoid other costs and inconvenience.

Following the scramble for conferences a report will be presented recommending the adoption of the draft Food Inspection Policy for the risk-based Food Inspection Program. If you again look closely at the screen during Live Streaming you might see the strings pulling the hands skywards again. Yep, up they go and chop,chop,chop, chop... down come all the rubber stamps. With any luck one of the “statesmen” might delay the proceedings with some statesman like speech that screams "look at me, look at me" to commend staff on their work. However this tends to happen mainly with road related reports rather than food.

Don’t make that tea yet as they then accept the tabled Traffic committee report that covers two stops signs and the traffic control for a triathlon event – the Capital Coast Triathlon Festival 2018.

What’s that? The Capital Coast Triathlon Festival 2018?

Of interest was the discussion on social media asking when did the Nature Coast become the Capital Coast. As the naming of the event is the decision of the organisers and not council’s there might be an opportunity at the Tuesday Council meeting for Councillor Nathan, with her tourism hat on, to reiterate that marketing the South Coast to half a million Canberrans might encourage them to come over the hill and visit the coast year round rather than just in summer bringing much needed cash with them. Seems that the #unspoilt tourism campaign didn’t work all that well for Eurobodalla Tourism or the Sapphire Coast Tourism further south as many visitors from Sydney managed to only make it as far as the #unspoilt Shoalhaven and …. stayed there. As for the Nature Coast – no one knew where it was – Google it and you might discover it spans the Sunshine and Fraser Coasts marketing itself as Australia's Nature Coast offers unbeatable natural experiences in some of the world's most diverse and pristine National Parks, rainforests and waterways. And there was Eurobodalla promoting the Nature Coast and sending everyone to Queensland. With four annual Eurobodalla Holiday Planners in a row featuring a Montague Island seal on the front cover one might imagine we could rename ourselves the Seal Coast. Or maybe they could try running a campaign of “Eurobodalla, Where the bloody hell are ya?” So maybe the Capital Coast is a good call after all.

Then comes the Investments reports and a pretty straight forward

Narooma Surf Beach Holiday Park lease report.

It is near the close of the meeting where Urgent Business can be raised by a Councillor. The Mayor and General Manager don’t like being surprised. They like to establish before the meeting if there will be any Urgent Business raised so that the Mayor can use her discretionary powers to determine if the matter is in fact, by her measure, indeed urgent. "the business proposed to be brought forward is ruled by the Chairperson to be of great urgency." There is indeed an URGENT MATTER

The matter of: loss of face and the further degrading of community trust in the Council and in particular the faith and trust in the procedures and the compliance of Council meetings satisfying the Local Government Act. This comes as part of the litany of actions by Council that saw the Ofiice of Local Government issue a serious slap on the wrist in regards to how they dealt with confidential matters during Council meetings. Though, under duress, Council retrospectively adjusted minutes as per the OLG directive they chose to only adjust those of this Council period and not go further back to 2016 for example where they were also "interpreting" the rules. The directive from the OLG was to correct the errors and offered no statement of any time period - fix the compromised minutes - very clear. It appears, by this error of 2016 that Council chose to interpret their directive and limit their retrospective corrections to the period of the current Council.

The elephant in the room next Tuesday will be the astonishing revelations that the minutes and the Council meeting of April 26th, 2016 that saw Council agree to take out a $2m loan to buy the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site for $2.7m were not in order and that the Confidential matter was so confidential that Council failed to record any of it other than a scant reference in the minutes. Minutes record Property Matter CON16/009 which, by its file number, reveals it is a Confidential associated with the Mackay Precinct redevelopment. Being three days before exchange of contracts for the purchase of the BBBC it can only be assumed that this was the confidential meeting that then Mayor Lindsay Brown referred to in his media statement on April 29th where councilors voted to buy the property. The video feed from the Council meeting of April 26th, three days before, confirms that there was no reference to CON16/009 after they returned from discussing confidentials. There is the unexplained discrepancy that there was no corresponding CON16/009 in the agenda for the minute to refer to. The General Manager prepared the agenda and also oversaw the minutes before providing them to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to sign as a true account of the meeting. Did the Mayor of the day sign minutes that made specific reference to CON16/009 knowing that it was not referred to at all at the April 26th meeting? Each page of the minutes has to be signed. A GIPA request would quickly reveal if the Mayor signed off on CON16/009 however, rather than raising a GIPA, the signed minutes should be available to any councillor on request.

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal #LeiParker

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