Mayor Liz Innes, having only said a few days before that it would be "a very brave council" who would propose doing "anything" with the community owned Kyla Grazing lots at Tuross Head was missing in action today at the Kyla Hall meeting to hear the concerns raised by the Tuross community that they held a mistrust in Council's current actions to rezone the land. Adding to the warning to tread lightly with the Tuross Head community was the sage advice of Councillor Rob Pollock who reminded fellow councillors that "10 or so years ago when we got well and truely whacked by the community. We would be stupid to consider it" Yet with all those warnings the Mayor still saw fit to send in two poorly briefed planning staff members to what was most likely to be a potentially hostile and volatile Tuross Head Progress Association meeting. Their role, with little historical background briefing, was to placate a highly suspicious audience of 85 that Council had no hidden agenda in its current proposal to rezone the land. Unfortunately for them the room was filled with history.
Unveiled to them was the history of how the land came to be community owned under the trust of Council and the subsequent history of when Council "misinformed" the community in 2000 with a "non-truth" that they had been approached by a developer who wanted to turn the land into the Tuscany of The South and, as such, was going to reclassify the land as operational so it could be sold off. This deception and the announcement to sell the land led to a public meeting in the old Tuross Head Progress hall where, urged on by the smell of bubbling tar and the appearance of feathers, the attending mayor, councillors and council staff declared, there and then, that they were going to withdraw their intent. Tuross Head has a justifiable deep seated distrust of Council from this incident perpetuated further by the recent "theft" of community land on Tuross Boulevarde for subsequent resale that saw Council ignore the community's outcry. This incident adds to the audacious attempt by Council, knowingly going outside of legal protocols to recategorised Land categorised as Cultural Heritage to Sporting to build a shed in a location that the entire community strongly said NO to. While Council continues to lick at the scars of its previous encounters with the Tuross Head community we saw two innocent staff members sent "into the lion's den" ill prepared for a well informed onslaught from a community that is passionate about its grazing lots. The meeting was very well attended (85) with the Federal Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis and the Labor candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips present along with Jillian Reynolds, the Manager of South Coast & Southern tablelands Fisheries, NSW Dept of Primary Industry. Also in attendance was Councillor Anthony Mayne who fortunately managed to deflect the more negative energies of the meeting to himself. This saved the two members of the council staff from the robust lines of questioning that continued to reveal to the meeting that the council representatives had few answers other than those of a general nature they could speak to. Councillor Mayne was very clear that his stance would see him lose favour with Council, suggesting that he might not regain his position of Deputy Mayor at the upcoming annual vote of his peers. A comment from a long time resident at the meeting indicated a solid support for Councillor Mayne's support "Where are the other councillors? Who are the other Councillors. We see the Mayor here with her support team whenever she has a barrow to push but today, when she should be facing the music she is no where to be seen. Mayne is here and he is listening. Shame they don't vote for the mayor every year like they used to. I'd back Mayne" Many at the meeting came to recognise as he spoke that Councillor Mayne was someone who was indeed listening, was passionate in giving communities their voice and was prepared to step up and represent the community as he was doing in Broulee and Mossy Point as well. Irrespective of the recent statement by the Mayor in regards to the submissions received (over 600 from individuals, community groups and associations and state government agencies) that it had "all been heard before" and that "there was nothing new" Councillor Mayne was very clear that he had not had the same luxury of five years to digest the intent, the purpose and the consequences within the 600 pages of the report along with its plethora of complex maps. He also said that he had not "heard it all before" as he was not a councillor "back then" and that his fellow councillors (McGinlay, Constable, Thompson, Nathan and Tait) might be in the same boat. "It is clear that the community are not on top of the Rural Lands Strategy and it is only now that the consequences are presenting themselves as are the doubts and cautions." he said
Above: Councillor Mayne suggests that the process comes to a halt until the councillors listen ("and I mean actually listen" he said) to the concerns of state agencies, organisations and the community
Councillor Mayne indicated that he would be putting the suggestion to Council that they put a halt to the whole rural land strategy process until all the shirewide groups, state agencies and associations bring forward their concerns that have "already been considered" by the Mayor, her committee and previous councillors. What is also becoming more and more evident is that the new Councillors (McGinlay, Constable, Tait, Nathan, Thompson and Mayne) could not possibly be "on top" of the strategy and should therefore NOT vote to endorse it until they first hear and understand what the objections are. A council planning representative advised the meeting that the councillors have access to the 600 plus submissions and can read them word for word along with the summaries. Councillors have 1 week of access to these that will no doubt comprise only one agenda item of a full council meeting with reams of other documents on other issues.
Above: Liz Rankin of Eurobodalla Council addressing the meeting It was becoming more and more apparent that the staff were well out of their depth with little if any knowledge of the history of the grazing lots or of previous meetings and undertakings that had been made by predecessors. To them the line was drawn in the sand of what was the planning laws of today and that the Kyla Grazing lots will simply come under new zoning and that the history will be diluted in time to a point where it can once again be reconsidered by a future council if they choose. So throwing himself bodily into diffusing the building agitation of the meeting Councillor Mayne was able to see the Council staff representatives leave with an appreciative round of applause in respect that they had come in good faith, delivered what they were able and acknowledged their limited depth in regards to historical knowledge relevent to the Grazing Lots. While the grazing lots are not immediately under threat due to their protective classification and categorisation the community was once again reminded that it had to be vigilant of a Council that all too often forgets that the Tuross Head community is watchful of every single thing Council does in the town and is prepared to actively engage Council at every level.