The Editor and Beagle readers, There can be no doubt that most Eurobodalla residents would be aware and appreciative of the $25 million in federal taxpayer funds recently returned to this community for use at MacKay Park. However, it is both a scandal and a pity that a retiring federal politician was apparently duped by the Mayor, her General Manager and Eurobodalla Shire Council senior staff, in order to obtain those funds.
Fittingly, on 1 April, and ironically with the soon-to-be-demolished 50 metre pool as a backdrop, the retiring Member for Gilmore, Ms Ann Sudmalis, presented a cheque for $25 million to the Mayor. That money represented the remainder of funding necessary for Council to proceed with the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre (BBRAALC) at MacKay Park.
During the event, Ms Sudmalis was reported as saying that the majority in the council survey stated that only a 25 m pool was needed.
Since the Community had not seen the results of that survey as at 1 April, Our Town Our Say (OTOS) asked for an open letter to be published to Ms Sudmalis on 18 April, in which [inter-alia] the following questions were asked:
Could you therefore please advise the source of your information that allowed you to state on 1 April, that a majority on the recent council surveys confirmed that only a 25-metre pool is required for Batemans Bay?
Could you also please advise how you came to be in possession of that survey information, when the community and elected councillors have been advised not to expect the results of the surveys before June of this year? and;
Could you also confirm that you have sighted or at least, have been given a summary of the Business Plan for MacKay Park, that we understand was required to accompany the application for federal funding?
No response has been received to that letter - nor to the version that was directly emailed to Ms Sudmalis but in the meantime, Council has published the results of the survey on its website – and what a revelation it is! It reveals that not only was Ms Sudmalis misled but also that the Community preference, as evidenced by the great majority of respondents’ comments, is for a 50 metre pool – NOT a 25 metre pool!
Such an outcome, even though not specifically sought in the Council survey, should not have come as a surprise, because Our Town Our Say (OTOS) and many other interested Community members have been hammering home this point to the deaf ears within Council for some years!
But to mislead a federal politician? Is there no limit to the depth of deception, guile and stealth to which this Council and its senior staff will stoop, in order to get its way on MacKay Park? It just stinks - read on!
The final nail in this smelly Council coffin comes via a report by a Community member who spoke to Ms Sudmalis during her attendance at a pre-polling booth in Batemans Bay on Monday 6 May.
When asked what she thought of the latest survey results, Ms Sudmalis said she knew nothing about them, claiming that she had seen the results of a survey about 18 months ago when she met with the General Manager.
That would place their meeting as sometime in late 2017, after the disgraceful Council plan to embark upon a deceptive process to obtain letters of support from various groups within the Community. That was done without revealing that the 50 metre pool would be demolished. Many withdrew their support afterwards.
When it was suggested to Ms Sudmalis that Council had misled her, the defensive barriers went up. She then suggested that such comments be directed to Council or to another MP.
Readers may like to note the following email to Warren Mundine on 18 April:
“Dear Warren, On behalf of Our Towns Our Say (OTOS), I submit the text of an open letter below, that should appear in The Beagle very shortly. It was also emailed to Ann Sudmalis direct. You may like to confer with your colleague Ann Sudmalis in this issue. Welcome to Gilmore and good luck!”
No response has yet been received from Mr Mundine.
Both Ann and Warren have been around politics long enough to be well familiar with the telling of half-truths and outright lies. Local politicians are also ardent learners of those techniques. If Ms Sudmalis was not shown or advised of the results of the March 2019 Council survey before the cheque ceremony and if she relied only on the General Manager’s blatantly cooked-up results from Council’s deceptive letter-of-support campaign of 2017, then she was duped big-time!
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!"
(Sir Walter Scott, 1808).
Let’s hope that whichever candidate for Gilmore gets up on 18 May, a very large magnifying glass is placed over the whole of the Mackay Park fiasco and its federal funding, well before the first sod is turned!
Enjoy your retirement Ms Sudmalis – you’re well out of it now.
Councillor Innes, surely yours cannot be far behind?
Please take the General Manager with you. Our Towns Our Say