The Ordinary meeting of Eurobodalla Council was far more than its usual fifteen minutes of robotic hand raising approvals we have become accustomed to of late. The meeting was actually robust, entertaining and nearly characteristic of the Council meetings we used to once enjoy before everything was taken behind closed doors to be sorted out in "briefings". The standard catch-cry was still there with staff reminding Councilors that they had been well "briefed" and that "you were advised this in previous briefings". The preceding Public Forum session heard a dozen speakers clearly articulate to the councillors their concerns over the proposed Moruya By-Pass route, Coopers Island Road and the failures of staff under delegation, the budget and the proposed land sale at Dalmeny of 414,000 m2 of Council land earmarked for urban development. More details on these and the outcome to each will be published when able. Sadly, once again the community were robbed of the opportunity to watch, via live streaming, other members of their community present to Councillors. And once again the Mayor, Liz Innes, failed to chair the Public Forum session, leaving it to Deputy Mayor Rob Pollock to conduct the session which he ably did giving speakers the respect they deserved. The Public Forum sessions are not mandatory for councillors to attend though there is an expectation they do so, knowing that speakers will be presenting on the agenda items of the day. Council meetings, on the other hand demand attendance, which might explain the Mayor's habit of only showing up for these performances. It is known that the Mayor now days rarely attends briefings which is even more of a disappointment as these are where Councillors can listen to staff and drill down into the finer detail before voting on matters. So unsurprisingly, the Mayor did make an appearance some twenty five minutes after Public Forum ended to chair today's Council meeting. Councillor McGinlay nailed it today when he reminded councillors that while they sit in the chamber and have access to so much information they also assume that everyone else in the community also knows what they know. This brings back the recent comment of the Mayor that "the community know what the community know". It was laughingly revealed to the Mayor that the community, and the councillors, actually didn't know much at all around the issue of the Batemans Bay Pool business case. What we saw delivered today was a passionate community presenting to Councillors, something that has been missing for sometime after Council first attempted to manipulate public inclusion by removing live streaming of Public Forum and downgrading Public Access to once a month. Even the requirement of pre-registering and providing copies of presentations the day before has seen the constraints backfire as the community has become more engaged and is using the media and social media to otherwise inform. Most satisfying today was the General Manager apologising for having given Councillors incorrect advice. In all, a good day for democracy
Above: More and more the Mayor seems to be missing in action leaving her duties to the Deputy Mayor. It is widely speculated that she will not be running in the September 2021 Local Government election.