Patricia Hellier - 6 February 2024

Patricia Hellier presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 6 February 2024.

Good Morning Mayor, Councillors, General Manager, Staff, Gallery and those comfortable zooming from home my name is Patricia Hellier from Batemans Bay.

POINT 1.  Prior to Australia Day I was sent a copy of a document that had appeared on the internet naming a number of Councils that were not participating in Australia Day events. I was very concerned that Eurobodalla Council was included in this list.  I made some inquiries and I was told that there was to be a Citizenship Ceremony on the 25th January at the Botanic Gardens.  I am a very proud Australian that embraces tradition and believes whole heartily “we are one”.  I have been told one of the reasons that the “traditional ceremony” was changed to the 25th January was to save on staff wages, another reason I was told was it was because both State and Federal members had other commitments on the 26th January.  I am sure you would be all aware there were a lot of comments and criticism on social media about changing the “Citizenship Ceremony” date and location. It should be noted both Tuross and Narooma were congratulated with “sticking to tradition”.

I am of the understanding that it is the “Councillors” that make the policy in relation to such issues and yet I am not aware that the change to the “traditional ceremony date and location” was bought to Council did this occur?  In relation to the “costs” there would be a limited number of staff required to be present on Australia Day 26th January, I therefore ask what was the cost incurred to have the event to the Botanic Gardens?

Councillor given that this Chamber is the closest connection to NSW Government I believe it is the most appropriate location to welcome new members to the Eurobodalla community that way they become familiar with our Council building and our Chamber.

POINT 2 – As you are all aware I am quite familiar with the COMP there are a couple of issues from the last Council meeting I believe needs addressing.  A statement was made at the beginning of Public Forum by the Deputy Mayor words to the affect “to remind everyone of good microphone technique that includes the Councillors – and I will Council people on good microphone technique as well”. I would like to point out there is nothing in the COMP or Code of Conduct that gives anyone chairing a meeting to “Council a Councillor or a Presenter”.

POINT 3 -I would also like to draw your attention to 3.12 of the COMP “Speakers at public forums must not digress from the item on the agenda of the Council meeting that they have applied to address the Council on”. If the speaker digresses to irrelevant matters, the Chairperson is to direct the speaker not to do so”.  At the last Council meeting the 2nd speaker was not registered to speak on a Notice of Motion put forward by the Deputy Mayor who was chairing the meeting.  The Deputy Mayor failed to take the appropriate action.  Given that lately there has been so much interest on a member of the public’s association with Councillors what category of conflict would this come under?

Given this speaker appeared to be very familiar with “Hallmark Events” and associated issues and yet did not to follow the requirements in relation to registering to speak on an item.  It should also be noted this speaker made an incorrect statement in relation to two Councillors being members of the Batemans Bay Chamber this should have been corrected.

I am raising these issues as this group of Councillors have past their 2 year mark and it appears that there are some who are “choosing to cherry pick items within the COMP and ignoring other points within the document”.  Why is so much time spent bringing this document to Council, putting the document out to exhibition, work shopping the document and then only following it when it suits.

POINT 4 – Correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that when a Councillor moves a motion that Councillor is the last person to speak to summarise the motion. At the last CouncilMeeting motion GMR23/033 was moved by Clr Schutz and 2nd by Clr Grace and yet the chair called for Clr Mayne to summarise the motion.  I will add that Clr Mayne did an excellent summary.

POINT 5 – I would like to know when a speaker is interrupted by the Chairperson is the clock then stopped?

POINT 6 – On Wednesday 20th December 2023 (day after the Council meeting) I attended a meeting at Surfside with some 40 + concerned residents.  A director and a staff person were present.  At the meeting it was raised that on the 23rd June 2023 MP’s Phillips and Holland announced funding of over 12Million dollars for direct protection works – Fiona Phillips stated “I am thrilled to see the Batemans Bay region in particular, Surfside receive an upgrade.

Now along with this money Surfside including Wharf Road were previously promised $5Million plus an extra $250,000 for consultants fees. What has this $17+ million been allocated to, and how much has been allocated to Surfside that will help to protect homes?

I will add during the meeting at Surfside on 3 occasions members in attendance made statements “the Councillor has hundred and thousands of dollars to spend on Sculptures” on the first and 2nd occasion I corrected this and on the 3rd occasions the Director present corrected this.  I am not sure where this rumour stated but this untrue rumour is being circulated.

Councillors you a probably aware there is a FB site called “Eurobodalla Shire Council – what happens now” over the weekend I was sent a copies of a number of statements I have no doubt leading up to the Council Election in September you can expect this to increase.  Whilst I might be seen by some  “as pain in the butt” I prefer to direct my issues to the Councillors.

Patricia Hellier

Council's reply

I would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to contribute to the Public Access session held on Tuesday 6 February 2024.  Contributions to this session are a welcome insight into the views of our local community. We provide the following advice regarding matters raised in your presentation:

Point 1 – Australia Day

Council held its Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony as usual, the only change being that the ceremony was run on Australia Day eve.

This change was for purely practical reasons: freeing new citizens to enjoy their Australia Day holiday with family and friends (they are limited to 4 guests at a ceremony), freeing the Mayor and Councillors to attend other Australia Day activities, and avoiding clashes with other Australia Day events, like Rotary Club’s citizen of the year celebrations. The change was well received with the new citizens who made the pledge.

The Citizenship Ceremony is a private function and Council’s only Australia Day event but Council does provide support for local organisations running other community events.

The cost for the Citizenship Ceremony being held at the Botanic Garden included:

  • Venue hire: $502
  • Catering for 70 attendees: $1,290
  • Staff costs.

Other Citizenship Ceremonies are held throughout the year and are held in the Council Chambers. All costs are covered within Council’s existing budgets.

Points 2, 3, 4 and 5 – References to the Code of Meeting Practice  

Council’s Code of Meeting Practice will be reviewed following the 2024 Local Government election being held in September 2024.

Councillors will be shortly provided with training to support their knowledge and application of the Code of Meeting Practice.

In regard to Point 5, this is not addressed in the Code of Meeting Practice, however, I would anticipate that any long interruption would be noted by the Chair to allow the speaker their full seven minutes.

Point 6 – Coastal erosion - Surfside Beach

Council has $12,000,000 allocated towards Coastal Management Program (CMP) infrastructure at the moment. This includes $5,000,000 in grant funding for Batemans Bay (including Surfside and Long Beach), $6,000,000 in grant funds allocated to Caseys Beach rock wall and a $1,000,000 Council contribution.