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Council say NO to three scientists on the Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee

This week saw councillors presented with the nominations received by Council in relation to representation on the Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee (CEMAC) with a recommendation that Council accept all the nominees. Members of the CEMAC are a broad representation from the community with a diverse skill set. They serve to advise Council about coastal, environmental and flood management matters, and review Council’s open coast and estuaries Coastal Management Programs and flood studies. At the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 11 August 2020 (Minute 20/140) it was resolved to advertise for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to appoint a new Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee. In accordance with this direction, staff called for EOI to fill all voting seats on the CEMAC. Nominations for the majority of the seats were received by Council. Council received thirteen nominations for the twelve positions (as listed below) on CEMAC. Unfortunately, no nominations were received for the recreation and business and tourism positions. On 24 August 2020, expressions of interests were called for the following twelve vacant positions: • Aboriginal Advisory Committee: 1 position • Natural Resource Management (Landcare): 1 position • Business and Tourism: 1 position still VACANT • Primary Industry: 1 position • Recreation: 1 position still VACANT • North (North of Clyde River): 1 position • Batemans Bay (CBD to Malua Bay): 1 position • North Central (Rosedale to Moruya River): 1 position • South Central (South Head to Potato Point): 1 position • South (Dalmeny to Akolele): 1 position • Science: 2 positions There were 3 nominations for Science. One too many it seems. When the matter came up for voting the Councillors moved into Confidential so that they could discuss the applicants. After a reasonable while they returned for the Confidential session the Mayor announced an amendment to appoint the recommended nominees to the Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee, as contained in Confidential Attachment except for Applicant Number 13. Clr McGinlay said during the follow up debate "The position you are seeking to not fill is in the realm of scientific advice. Should we fill it, fill all nominations, all three, and I think all very worthy nominations the position we would have three out of thirteen. You are talking about balance, talking about cohesion ... I think the more scientific objective perspectives we have the better. I see no merit in excluding any one of those three nominees from this committee. "It is not a decision making committee, it merely provides advice. As far as I'm concerned you are trying to diminish the input of science to our decisions and I have no intention whatsoever of agreeing with your amendment". Clr Anthony Mayne made the observation saying that "I think having a look at the calibre of the three and looking at their bio's (CV's) it is probably a real compliment to this shire that three people of that calibre have bothered to put their hands up to participate in this. I must say that I personally welcome the level of participation and level of skill set and intellect". "I think it would be terrific to see all three land the position here". An alternative, challenging and anticipated amendment calling for the committee to allow 3 positions for Science to accommodate the third applicant, especially in light of the two "no-shows" representing recreation and business and tourism was not forthcoming. As you might imagine the vote went to the Innes voting bloc with only Clr McGinlay and Mayne voting against excluding Applicant Number 13 (the third scientist) even though the two recreation and business and tourism positions were left vacant. And who was Applicant Number 13 that Mayor Innes and her voting bloc decided to reject rather than accommodate and welcome to the fold? Applicant Number 13 is a full time resident of the Eurobodalla and has a long association with the area.

Applicant Number 13 has a: B.Sc. (Hons 1) and Ph.D. (Science) degrees in coastal geography/geomorphology. The applied geography honours degree, majored in coastal geomorphology and pedology, was specifically geared to produce graduates with skills in natural resource management and environmental impact assessment, with the honours project (Moruya - A Case Study in Beach Response) focussing on post-storm recovery processes on a Eurobodalla beach. These skills and knowledge were expanded by high level environmental research on the N.S.W. coast, culminating in a successful Ph.D. thesis incorporating quantitative data characterization and statistical analyses to develop a regional morphodynamic model of the NSW coast integrating wave climate and bathymetry.

These high level professional degree qualifications were followed by more than twenty years experience in senior level policy, scientific and management positions within NSW Government agencies working on natural resource management, water quality, catchment management, contaminated site management and climate change/energy issues, which has engendered well developed strategic thinking and planning skills required for the review, analysis and development of natural resource technical and policy advice. The Ph.D. thesis has provided the broad perspective necessary to develop significant recommendations whose implications can affect a wide range of stakeholders. Applicant Number 13 is experienced in committee work processes, having undertaken the role of agency representative on a variety of committees/working groups including :

  • NSW Greenhouse Plan Working Groups for Energy, Geosequestration & Fugitive Emissions and Natural Resource Management;

  • NSW Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Methodology Working Group;

  • NSW Decade of Landcare Working Group;

  • NSW Climate Change Interdepartmental Committee;

  • Assessment of Site Contamination NEPM Contact Group;

  • Western and Lower Murray-Darling Total Catchment Management Committees;

  • Protection of the Natural Environment Standing Committee of the NSW Coastal Committee;

  • ARMCANZ/ANZECC National Water Quality Management Strategy Contact Group;

  • Broken Hill Environmental Health Steering Committee; and

  • Chairing the 1995 NSW State of the Environment Biodiversity Chapter Working Group.

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