Eleven minutes: a new record for a council meeting

The Ordinary meeting of Eurobodalla broke a new record with the nine councillors, all the senior staff filling the chamber for a full eleven minutes. Much to the amusement (and sadly with diminished expectations) those in the shire who tuned in to watch their councillors represent them on a range of robust issues such as Araluen Road, failing maintenance across the shire and the ongoing under-delivery of services saw nothing more than the councillors raise their hands like the puppets they have become to endorse five agenda items. Fortunately there were two interjections that saw the meeting expand to a full eleven minutes. The first came from the two Dorothy Dix questions aimed at Director Usher to explain a variation to the planning rules around second dwellings on a rural lot. Basically all the Director did was to reiterate what was in the agenda in front of the questioners had they attempted to read it and the covering notes or paid attention at the briefings where both the questions were well covered. The next interrupt to today's game of "Raise your Hand like it has a string attached" came when Clr Mayne attempted to bring into the Local Traffic Committee report discussion around the Araluen Road. He was swiftly brought to a halt saying it wasn't on the agenda and he couldn't mention it. He acquiesced and indicated the potential to bring it up in Urgent Business however this didn't happen as he knew, under Council's Code of Meeting Practice, that "Urgent business regarding operational issues will not be accepted, as there are alternative channels available to deal with these issues outside of meetings." In just over eleven minutes it was Go Home time. Pens down and out the door. They will return to Chambers in a fortnight. It will definitely be a challenge to break this record though. Of interest is that the Mayor did not declare a non-pecuniary interest and abstain from voting to endorse that the Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club Incorporated be offered an interest free loan of $30,000 for a term of three years and nine months, being fifteen equal and consecutive quarterly payments of $2,000 each. It is understood that a Code of Conduct complaint is now being lodged to seek clarity on the perceived requirement that the Mayor should have declared a non-pecuniary interest given the relationship the Mayor has to prominent members of Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club Incorporated. 5.1 Non-pecuniary interests are private or personal interests a council official has that do not amount to a pecuniary interest as defined in clause 4.1 of this code. These commonly arise out of family or personal relationships, or out of involvement in sporting, social, religious or other cultural groups and associations, and may include an interest of a financial nature. 5.5 When considering whether or not you have a non-pecuniary conflict of interest in a matter you are dealing with, it is always important to think about how others would view your situation.