Councillors jeopardise Multimillion Dollar Funding into the Shoalhaven

At the Strategy and Assets meeting Mayor Amanda Findley proposed that Council support the Riversdale / Bundanon Trust Funding application to the Commonwealth ‘Building Better Regions’ ahead of the Councils project at the North Nowra basketball Stadium.
“It was a very difficult decision to come to in some ways but the economic benefits for the Riversdale project far outweigh the economics of the basketball Stadium. Partnering with Bundanon Trust for the Riversdale project will help to realise this $28.5 million project, if it is a successful application”.
Following a rescission motion, Councillors Guile, Watson and Pakes brought everyone back to debate again whether the Sports Complex should be put back to the top of the list. Council had offered assurances that the Sports Hall was funded already but that the Riversdale project would create 142 jobs during the construction phase and 59 ongoing jobs for our area thereafter and was the stronger contender for the highly competitive funding round.  The tactic of repeatedly using rescission motions is becoming obstructive to getting things done on Council, costing a great deal to the ratepayers, who ‘The Independents’ claim to represent.

The South Coast Register, no supporter of the Greens, were slow in realising they had fallen victim to ‘false news’ from councillor Guile and produced a stinging editorial.


Climate Change Briefing for Council

The SCC Climate Change Committee, closed down by the previous administration, was reinstated on 15th November 2016. On the 20th December Council voted in favour of a briefing by Bob Hayward a local scientist and resident, to present “Climate Change – A Concerned Citizens Understanding”. The motion was passed on condition a climate science denier – yet to be fielded – will be included in the session on 23rd March. It is unclear at this stage whether the public will be able to attend.


2017 begins with the Big Hurdle: RATES!

The next stage in the submission process that Council is undertaking to make a rate increase was Carried on Thursday 2nd February.  The obstructive Rescission Motion mounted by the Independents following a long debate the previous evening was defeated after no fresh arguments were brought to the debate.

Flagged during the Greens campaign, the raising of the rates is now upon us, both as rate-payers and as Greens supporters. As rate-payers we hesitate; as supporters of the difficult decisions the three Greens councillors and our mayor have to advance, we are behind them. We have no choice. Previous Councils over the years have run down the quality of repairs and maintenance our local roads, the item at the top of most rate-payers list of criticism; following the increased seasonal influx of visitors, the strains on the system are too evident.

Unfortunately, in spite of indications after the elections that there was to be a willingness to find a consensus in Council, Shoalhaven Independents pursued a program of misinformation.

The Shoalhaven Independents continued their anti-rates-rise protest meetings that misinformed and misled. The Independents presented to Council a motion that they have been rolling up to their protest meetings to call for the rate rise to be abandoned, a Citizens Jury to be established, a waste committee and a working group of corporate citizens to be setup. All to frustrate what needs to happen as the next step, part of the submission process that Council is undertaking and reporting to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal as part of the consultation package.

The real purpose of this is quite clear – in 2020 the Independents want to make the statement that this Council failed to deliver services and they are attempting to achieve this through their current no rate-rise campaign. The Independents presented a one-sided presentation to their meetings and created a situation where people felt like the sky is falling in.

The Greens mayor, Amanda Findley has appealed to rate-payers: “I call on all residents to work together to improve the prosperity of the Shoalhaven and support the average $2.50 per week rate rise and get the facts on the issue rather than the pulp fiction being delivered by the Independents.”

At the Council meeting on 1st February, a majority of councillors voted to move to the next stage of setting a rate increase. The Independents, who had bought a cheer squad along and who debated crudely, not only voted against, but immediately submitted a Rescission Motion to frustrate the process further. Is this the beginning of a process of attempting to stymie the work of Council?


Council Votes in Marriage Equality

The Shoalhaven City Council has joined the growing numbers of councils that publicly support marriage equality in Australia. By a vote of 8 to 5, councillors last night agreed to a motion supporting marriage equality, after a debate described as deeply respectful and emotional.

Mayor Findley, and Greens councillors Nina Cheyne, John Levett and Kaye Gartner all voted in favour of the motion. Dawn Hawkins, organiser for Marriage Equality Gilmore, has moved to thank those who took part in the vote. “I was personally moved by the respect, which was pointed out by Mayor Findley, everyone in the room showed each other and the issue of Marriage Equality. … It means the Council is listening to their people and it means we can strengthen our support to talk to our MP; and it encourages our community to know it’s okay to be who we are.”

The vote watched by Greens members and members of Marriage Equality Gilmore, represents further evidence of support for Greens policy supporting social justice.


Beach Wheels

Nina Cheyne, Greens councillor for Ward 1, is Chair of the Shoalhaven Council Access Advisory Committee. One of her early successes in this role was a successful application to NSW Department of Family and Community Services FundAbility Program for funds to purchase ten beach wheelchairs, to provide improved access to the beach for children and young people living with disability. Full story….. 


A NEW BEGINNING

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The twelve councillors and Mayor Amanda Findley are smoked into Council.

The new Shoalhaven Council has been sworn in, breaking with tradition by beginning with a smoking ceremony, led by local Aboriginal elder Uncle Paul McLeod, a welcome song by Shakeela Williams composed with William Barton, and a welcome to country from Aboriginal elder, Aunty Ruth Simms. The new traditions of this Council will build on inclusion, reconciliation and consultation.

New Mayor, Amanda Findley, began as she intends to continue, with a call for all Councillors to put aside political interests and past animosity, and honour the terms of their oath to work together for the betterment of the people of the Shoalhaven. “That emphasis on people,” according to Mayor Findley, will inform and colour her Council’s approach to everything that is done over the next four years.

In a ceremony which recognised both the history and the future of the Shoalhaven , Councillors entered the chamber, paired with representatives from the community of the Shoalhaven, to take their place, as the strains of the didgeridoo echoed through the building.

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The three Greens councillors take their seats in the Chamber.

The Ordinary Meeting which followed began with two excellent debates on complex issues central to The Greens recent campaign: aged care provision, and the Huskisson view.

Shoalhaven Heads has run out of land suitable for the kind of aged care facility the community there has been working towards for nearly 15 years. Compromises seem the only way out, involving complex deals with State and Federal agencies. The Greens voted against the motion, although it was carried. Clr Nina Cheyne’s closing suggestion of approaching the Aboriginal Land Council about their centrally located land with an undertaking for provision to be inclusive of indigenous aged needs, demonstrated the kind of fresh approach being introduced by a Green to Council.

In the debate that followed on the Huski view, the Greens on this occasion voted with the ‘Independents’, declaring that the car park adjacent to the wharf at Huski be re-zoned as ‘community property’ over which only Council would have final say as to use and changes.

At the November meeting Council will receive a report on the public response to the Huskisson Management Plan in order to begin the process of considering the best way forward with the Shoalhaven’s ‘jewel in the crown’.

The very first deliberations of this new Council indicate the level of cooperation that is possible, as well as the very real challenges for the Council ahead.

Rosie Wade & Mike Leggett


Shoalhaven GREENS on Council

Confirmed on Sunday 17th September by NSW Electoral Commission, THREE Greens councillors join Amanda Findley, the first Green Mayor for the Shoalhaven. Together with the Labor councillor Annette Alldrick, one third of the new Council will be pursuing progressive policies for the community.

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Kaye Gartner (Ward 3), Nina Cheyne (Ward 1), Mayor Amanda Findley, John Levett (Ward 2)