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David Lambert - 8 July 2014

David Lambert made the following comments in Non Agenda Public forum at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 8 July 2014.

Council and the Eurobodalla Shire are at risk of being sacked by the NSW Government over being dysfunctional with the Broulee Biodiversity Strategy acting one of the catalysts for this.

Because of this I would like to speak today on what I perceive to be deceptive and misleading language being used in planning policies and strategies leading Councillors to make decisions without being fully acquainted with the facts.

For example; is what is being promoted in the Broulee Biodiversity Strategy mandatory, or is it elective?

Are there alternatives? And if so why haven't those alternatives been presented to allow a valued decision to be made by the Councillors?

Councillor Pollock claimed last week that "it was a lousy piece of legislation" and considered it was blackmail. He also went on to say that "it is the only game in town – there is no option – there is no alternative".

Really, Councillor Pollock? Are you 100% sure of that, because I am not.

I searched through the strategy and found no statement claiming that Government legislation mandated the approach recommended in the Broulee proposal.

I found some vague reference to Council staff receiving advice from NSW Environment, without divulging what that advice was; but I found little that claimed that there was no other alternative. It may be there, but I could not find it.

What I did find was, to quote: "The Biodiversity Certification is an alternate assessment appropriate mechanism to address competing biodiversity conservation and development issues……" It doesn't say ONLY, it says APPROPRIATE inferring that there must be other mechanisms that can be equally as appropriate.

This indicated that there ARE alternatives and that bio-certification is but ONE of the appropriate mechanisms that could be employed. In other words, the Strategy being promoted is NOT necessarily MANDATORY. But nowhere can I find this statement in the Broulee Strategy Document.

This should be of concern to the Council because there are precedents where Councillors have been deceived into believing that the advice offered is the ONLY option and alternative available to them under Legislation.

The Interim Sea Level Rise Policy is a perfect example of this where it was inferred that there was no alternative other than the Policy being proposed in 2010 backed by a raft of Legislation. Hardly NO ALTERNATIVE when the 54 other Coastal Councils in NSW rejected the approach. Council was clearly misled and continues to be so.

No Councillor asked whether there were alternatives to that Sea Level Rise Policy and those Councillors who have voted in favour of the Broulee Biodiversity Strategy have also failed to explore whether there are alternatives.

There are many here today who have held down important management positions in their careers and who have needed to make strategic business decisions based upon submissions from subordinates. The same applies to Company Directors and must also apply to Councillors. Those who unquestionably accept what they are told let down their employers and their shareholders; which for Councillors are your constituents.

So, if you don't know what you are voting for, or have doubts, then you should abstain from voting.

I wrote to all Councillors suggesting a moratorium of 3 months on the Broulee Biodiversity Strategy to permit scrutiny of the legislation.

I added that this moratorium "would also allow a proper dialogue to be conducted with the community that can involve public meetings/workshops" and that "Council owes this to the people and also to good governance. Anything less is to be contemptuous of your constituents and of the role of Council itself.

Approved expansions to land releases at Long Beach and Batemans Bay North are on hold because of market conditions. There is a surfeit of residential land on the market in the northern part of the Shire.

So, whilst I understand the frustration held by the principals of the Broulee development, it is my professional opinion that a delay of 3 months should make little appreciative difference to their overall aspirations; but will make a huge amount of difference to the way Council is viewed by the community.

Finally, if Council cannot resolve this impasse then I would like to suggest that the future of amalgamation of this Shire results in the north of the Moruya/Deua River being absorbed into the Shoalhaven with Bega taking over the rest.

Council's Reply 

Council has not provided a response.