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Peter Bernard - 13 March 2018

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

COUNCIL LEADERSHIP - NON AGENDA 13 MARCH 2018

There is no doubt that there is widespread dissatisfaction in the community with respect to many issues. The number of public meeting have highlighted general discontent within the community on a number of issues. Unfortunately this is causing division within the community. This is due to a lack of transparency and ineptitude of management to introduce genuine change to the satisfaction of its community. Madam Mayor. There were few community meetings prior to this term of council. However the number has accelerated in this term of council and there is once again talk of a street blockade. I am not in favour of this - a Blockade of the Heirarchy Bunker?" prior to 3.00pm on a Friday will suffice. We have seen mass meetings at Surfside against council inability to handle sea level rise policies, a mass meeting at Batemans Bay RSL regarding council development intentions for a cultural centre and downgrading of swimming facilities .Dissatisfaction about the positioning of a new bridge at Batemans Bay with potential environmental impacts on the whole of Bateman's Bay commercial and residential areas. Compensation claims with respect to council sea level rise predictions and inundation of properties. Unanswered questions concerning the purchase of land and property at Mackay Park. Public meeting held by the RTA with respect to the Batemans Bay Bridge and lack of attendance by councillors and senior staff. Public meeting held at the Catalina Golf club with respect to the replacement of a fifty metre pool with a 25 metre pool. Fudging of the figures to the extent of tens of millions of dollars with respect to assets purchasers and sales. All explained by the General Manager as an "error".

The glaring factor at all these gathering was the absence of senior staff including the General Manager and the majority of councillors .Only one Councillor made his presence known at the Returned Services Club. The Mayor chaired a meeting at the Catalina Club which has been described as a "cat fight". Unfortunately it ended up with an irreparable citizen division. This generally happens when the council appoints a "sunset Committee which unknowing is led down a path by bureaucratic mamovering in the opposite direction to general community opinion. Even though the Mayor chaired the meeting it was won by the bureaucracy on the night using the "divide and rule" principle. Top management may very well have bad a good nights sleep but "not so” for many others. It cannot be denied that the image created by the council is approaching a new low. On top of this is the notification from the Director of Financial Audit Services of the Auditor General that "her objective is to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatements whether due to fraud or error". It is believed that a number of questions will be asked in the near future concerning some documents. Any attempt to change these figures will compound the issue. The Auditor General and Independent Audit Committee should start flexing what the muscles they have before these come wasted away by the bureaucratic medicine man".

Peter Bernard  14-3-2018

Council's reply

With regards to your comments on the Council Leadership, Councillors are representing the residents of Eurobodalla and the organisation in an elected leadership capacity. The role of a Councillor under the Local Government Amendment (Governance and Planning) Act 2016 is defined as follows:

  1. The role of a councillor is as follows:
    a) to be an active and contributing member of the governing body,
    b) to make considered and well informed decisions as a member of the governing body,
    c) to participate in the development of the integrated planning and reporting framework,
    d) to represent the collective interests of residents, ratepayers and the local community,
    e) to facilitate communication between the local community and the governing body,
    f) to uphold and represent accurately the policies and decisions of the governing body,
    g) to make all reasonable efforts to acquire and maintain the skills necessary to perform
    the role of a councillor.
  2. A councillor is accountable to the local community for the performance of the council.

As you are aware, in August 2016, Council resolved to create the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Precinct Sunset Committee. The aim of the committee is to: assist Eurobodalla Shire Council with the investigation of opportunities for the development of the precinct and develop and oversee the community engagement process during the investigation of opportunities for the development of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park precinct.

The committee is a non-delegated advisory committee.

With regard to your comments on Council’s financial statements, Council received an unmodified opinion on the Council’s general purpose financial statements by the NSW Audit Office for its 2016-17 financial statements.