Does the Mayor have a pecuniary interest to declare on the RLEP before she votes?
The Beagle Editor, As a rural land holder and being a member of a family of rural landholders in the Eurobodalla there is every possibility that the Mayor, or her family or any business associates or those who supported her election campaign might benefit financially under the Rural Lands Strategy proposal that is to be put before council in August. The State Government via Minister for Planning have signed off on the RLEP as was publicly clarified by the Mayor on ABC Radio last week. That should mean it’s done and dusted and that the concerns expressed by the Office of Environment and Health and the Department of Primary Industry along with all the other submissions are just a rehash that have been considered and dealt with. But the trick to it all now is that irrespective of the Mayor saying it is "done and dusted" in her opinion most of the current councillors will be seeing the submissions for the first time as newbies on the block. It might be a rehash to Innes who has seen this strategy through to where it is now over the last five years but the councillors are yet to receive a ‘Report’ for adoption and to receive and note the submissions and their summation. It will be interesting to see how the staff summarise the submissions for the councillors. We can see it now Submission from OEH: Rehash of last submission. Nothing new. Heard it all before. Cows in wetlands. Already considered and Minister signed off that we covered this somewhere in our strategy. Submission from DPI: Rehash of last submission. Nothing new. Heard it all before. Sediment and pollution impacting on oyster industry. Already considered and Minister signed off that we covered this somewhere in our strategy. So the Mayor tell us that it is now up to the final vote of the councillors and that the State Government via the Minister have already signed off on the Eurobodalla Shire’s Rural lands Strategy ( RLEP ) as it stands. Around town the word is that those who stand to benefit from the changes are being advised to submit Development Applications for dwellings etc. and this is prior to councillors receiving a report on the RLEP for consideration and perhaps endorsement. Councillors are not involved in development applications, it’s all done by delegated authority. Councillors have yet to consider all the claimed 500 + RLEP submissions. The State Government has already made the decision for council. Why would councillors need to receive a report for their endorsement then? Would the reason be when the muck hits the fan at some point it will then be said it was supported by Council and Councillors, even though they have no involvement in the Development Application processes because that is all done by staff now under delegated authority. Will the Mayor, when the Rural Lands Strategy Proposal report comes before Council advise that she, a family member or a financial contributor to her election campaign might gain benefit from adopting the Strategy? To not do so and then have it discovered after the fact would undermine the intent of the strategy being of benefit to the whole community. If the Mayor does claim a pecuniary interest she will have to step down from the chair (during the council meeting) and give the chair to Deputy Mayor Anthony Mayne who has already clearly indicated he has some very serious questions around the Mayor's lackadaisical dismissing of the concerns of two NSW Government State Agencies and the 500+ submissions received suggesting they were "rehashed" and "nothing new". The Mayor might like to use her Mayoral Minute to offer the ratepayers some clarity and her assurity that she has nothing to declare before she votes. The same might apply to all the councillors who have rural land holdings.
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