Website Main content
Website Secondary navigation Public access session

Peter Bernard - 13 February 2018

Peter Bernard made the below comments at the Ordinary Council Meeting 13 February 2018.

Seals   -The Writing is on the Wall

Madam Mayor

You may not be aware that coastal authorities have spent considerable time and money and cordoned off a number of areas in Narooma due to the possible injury to human seals by seals. They have concreted permanent bollards at the entrance of the Northern Break- wall with signs denying entrance. Some areas, including pedestrian footpaths have been sectioned off with flimsy plastic netting equivalent to thousands of plastic bags. Unless supervised this will end up in the sea and become a direct threat to all marine life, whales, dolphins and virtually all other forms of sea life.

Madam there are a number of reasons for the increase in migration of seals into the inner area of Wagonga lake namely

1. Over population of Montague Island by the local colony

2. Migration of New Zealand Fur seals without a permit

3. The loss of the lower levels of the northern break-wall created by the major south coast low in 2016. Despite previous warning to this council the collapse is accelerating at a rapid pace into the entrance. Due to the loss of resting places they are moving to higher levels and further into the inlet, the so called shark- proof net into the inlet footpaths and around fish cleaning areas. The continuing collapse of the northern break-wall has become extremely dangerous to the passage of boating. Large boulders have rolled into large areas of the bed of the channel.

Madam Mayor it is only a matter of time before yet more loss of life will occur at this notorious entrance. The over population, loss of the lower level resting places are the main reasons for their movement into the main swimming area.

Their presence will attract their major predators – SHARKS.

The seals have already shown their presence in the so called shark proof net. One attack and the presence of blood will soon attract others.

A solution must be found very quickly. We are progressing very quickly from "Bats and Brumbies" to "Seals and Sharks ". Being caught in the middle of the latter will be far more deadly.

Madam Mayor - You cannot solve the problem so Pass the Buck to the Bureaucrats. Or some in the community are bound to find a solution.

Peter Bernard
13 Feb 208

PS  I may add that there are considerable quantities of fibrous thermoplastic material entrapped on rocks adjacent to the seals resting on the walkway. Photographic evidence of this is in my possession taken yesterday and at the time when the ""roundabout '" was constructed many years ago and still remains there as of yesterday. I do not have the time to highlight the problems with coastal erosion and the very un-professional protective measures taken by this council at Surf Beach.

Clarification of your Rulings. "Turn your mobile phones to silent"

Madam Mayor

This seems to differ from that published on the ESC website asking

"Speakers to turn their mobile phones and pagers off".

Docs this apply to all councillors and staff? If not why not?

Does both apply to all councillors and staff?

The reason why I am asking is because you apologised for the lack of attention paid by councillors and staff when Mrs Hellier was addressing this council. Observer in the gallery and on live streaming would have noticed the continuous movement of staff in and out of the chambers, the continuous chattering of staff and distracting physical movements of the GM and others on the bench and what appeared to be the passing of information between and from some councillors. This include the use of electronic devices by, of all people, the former Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Madam Mayor I suggest all councillors and staff examine the live streaming when speakers are endeavouring to attract their attention. They can do this by looking from left to right and right to left where the “Elders" sometimes sit.  Be warned it is not a pretty site and you may hear that the speaker is "diverting off the subject site, "shut up" or "bull shit". Madam Mayor you obviously heard what was happening when Mrs Hellier spoke at a previous meeting.

You apologised for what had happened. I commend you for that.

Madam Mayor I suggest that the ombudsman be approached to recommend

1. Appropriate rules and conduct to be observed by all senior staff

2. Councillors be lectured by the Performance Department of NSW Local Government how to behave during council and all public meeting.

Peter Bernard 13 February 2018

I may add that I consider, Madam Mayor, that you have may have erred by not allowing Mr Potts to sit in the Gallery after not allowing him to speak. Even if the gallery were a dock the accused would have the right to sit or stand. I can recall being at the chambers on the day and did not notice anything untoward.

Peter Bernard

Council's reply

Please find responses to your issues regarding seals and the Narooma breakwalls below.

  1. Seals on the pathway and near the ramp - Narooma
    Council has installed temporary construction fencing around the fish cleaning table at Narooma town wharf to assist National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in managing a seal using the area to recuperate from injury. NPWS are monitoring this issue as the key agency responsible, and Council is liaising with the agency as required, to assist in keeping both the seal and passers-by safe.

    The pathways remain open to pedestrians, and the fence will be removed when NPWS advise it is safe to do so. Council encourages residents to follow National Parks’ advice not to feed or touch the seals, to ensure the safety of both wildlife and people.

    We note your concern with plastic in the area. An inspection was undertaken and the plastic mentioned was not identified. Please contact the Moruya depot on 4474 1193 to provide further information on the precise location, or send us the photos you mentioned.
  2. Narooma breakwall
    We refer to our previous advice confirming the breakwalls and entrance are owned and maintained by the NSW Government. Queries in this respect should be referred to the appropriate agency which is NSW Department of Primary Industry (Crown Lands).


    The shark net continues to be monitored and maintained.

Response to: Clarification of your Rulings. "Turn your mobile phones to silent"

I would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to contribute to the public access session prior to the Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday 13 February 2018, in relation to mobile phone use by Councillors during Council meetings.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. It is important to note that Councillors access Council agendas and minutes via a technical device, so limiting access to their devices is not appropriate. However, I have had a discussion with my fellow Councillors regarding the concerns raised by community members of the use of technical devices during Council meetings.
Please be assured that each Councillor takes their role as an elected official seriously, and I thank you for taking the time to contribute to Council.