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Two sides of a coin

The Beagle Editor, TWO SIDES TO A COIN – For the last week I have on the occasion read articles on the Beagle and of course the most controversial would have to be an item on last Tuesday Council Meeting Agenda which was the Rural Lands.

We have been involved with this since the end of 2011 when it came to our attention that our property had been rezoned and reclassified without any notification. We attended the most controversial Council meeting 20th December 2011 which saw far more in attendance than last Tuesdays meeting.

For the record it should be noted I have been an avid and active critic of many issues involving the Eurobodalla Shire Council and I have been actively addressing the Councillors both in Public Access and Public Forum for a number of years as a believer in the democratic process and the truth.

We have attended many Rural Lands meetings both public, Council held and Rural Land workshops, and I will place it on record that the majority of those attending these meetings held the overwhelming view for the removal of the E3 and overlays and this was very evident in a petition that we were involved with that achieved over 5,300 signatures over a 3 week period. This petition was presented to Minister Andrew Constance.

There has been statement made that individuals were handpicked for the Rural Lands Committee. I dispute this as anyone could have applied for this committee when it was advertised and I wish I did so, but at the time I thought that the committee was for larger land owners. It should be noted I have had regular contact with members of the Rural Lands Committee during this process.

I believe there have been many incorrect statements made in comments section on the Beagle and it would take to long to try to correct each and every incorrect point but I will address some of these as I believe it is important to get to the truth. The fact is the push for the removal of E3 did not come from Liz Innes or anyone from the Innes family. Liz Innes as a Councillor was the “messenger” along with others from the Rural Lands committee who delivered the overwhelming view and votes from the various meetings. This is a case of trying to “shoot the messenger”.

There was a resignation from the Rural Lands Committee due to the facts that this person was not able to convince the committee in retaining the words ‘Stewardship”. This person is the same person who stormed out of a meeting at Moruya after I asked for a vote on those who were against the “Overlays and E3”. All but 3 voted against the removal of “E3 and the Overlays” and 2 of the 3 immediately left the meeting and then went on to arrange for a ‘secret invitation only meeting with the consultant’ with the majority the Rural Lands Committee not only excluded from the meeting but unaware of this meeting.

I believe that Council should have called a “Special Meeting” to hear the Rural Lands rather than including it in their normal fortnightly meetings as the draft document was put to the elected Councillors at the same time at a “Special Meeting called in October 2015” and the interesting thing was I was the only person sitting in the gallery at this meeting.

I was only able to attend a portion of last Tuesday's Council meeting and I sat through one presentation where a presenter stated she has received ‘expert advice’. When asked who she got the ‘advice from’ after a long winded statement she finished ‘’from the Greens’’.

I have since Live Streamed the meeting and whilst those who Live Stream these meetings from home may focus on the behaviour of the Councillors they cannot view the behaviour from those in the Gallery or for that matter the behaviour from some behind the scenes.

I can assure you that the behaviour of some outside this meeting was a disgrace. At one point I left the meeting to check a message on my phone. Whilst outside the Council Chambers I was in conversation with an acquaintance when a lady who was standing with the placards approached this person I was talking to and tried to ‘thrust’ a piece of paper into this persons hands which he declined to take. This lady said “You might like to keep this as a memento “. This lady then started to carry on like a chook with its head cut off and I turned to her and said “We are in a private conversation it has nothing to do with Council or this meeting and it certainly has nothing to do with you”. With that the person that I was speaking to and I walked back into the foyer and I returned to the meeting for a short period.

When I left the meeting another two acquaintances of mine were standing outside. I noticed as I walked passed that the lady who earlier interrupted my conversation and another lady were in conversation with two of my acquaintances. The conversation was centred around the Council and due to the nature of what one lady was stating I asked her how long she had lived in the area, she replied ‘’6 years’’ and then she went on to state “I know EVERYTHING that goes on in this Council and State Government”. Shocked I replied “there is no one who knows EVERYTHING”. This person went on to make a number of very derogatory and untrue statements in relation to the Rural Lands and Developers in Bateman Bay and who they were associated with that could only be described as very defamatory and it became obvious that this person who stated that she knew ‘EVERYTHING’ was grossly mistaken. Rather than getting into a lengthy argument myself and my two acquaintances made a very quick exit. From the Live Streaming of the Council meeting it is obvious from comments on the Beagle that individuals are carefully sifting through and placing their own interpretations of the meeting.

The Mayor's question to Director Usher was obviously ignited by Clr Mayne’s statement “I don’t know etc”. The question that the Mayor asked Director Usher was if Clr. Mayne had taken the opportunity over the last few months to address questions to Director Usher, Mark Hutchinson herself or Clr. Brown, Clr. Mayne’s “point of order” I do not believe to be valid call.

The Mayor then redirected the question to Clr. Mayne. Eventually he stated that he had spoken to Director Usher that morning while holding the paper that he had read to Director Usher and he went on and said “so to answer your question is YES”. The facts are except for the Council Briefing “ NO” Clr. Mayne did not engage prior with Director Usher, Mark Hutchinson, the Mayor or Clr. Brown. I acknowledge that Clr. Mayne is clearly trying to represent some within the shire.

My view is the actions of some attendees at the meeting along with Mr Noel Plumb (who has admitted he is not a land owner in the Eurobodalla ) was a disgrace and was a last minute attempt to derail the Rural Land process which has been ongoing over a long period of time. The results to some may not have ticked all the boxes but, as Clr. Constable pointed out, the final decision will be made by the NSW Planning Department.

The facts are there is a swinging pendulum and yesterday, in conversation, a person made a very interesting analogy to me in relation to a number of comments on the Beagle which was a follows ‘’It would appear that some are trying to make the Mayor a target over the Rural Lands. Some appear to be the same people who are regularly commenting against Huntfest and what it represents and yet these same people are trying to target and single out and hunt one person’’.

Food for thought.

Trish Hellier


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