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Peter Bernard - 8 July 2014

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

Eurobodalla Community Image 

Mr Mayor

I take note of your recent editorial with respect to the democratic process and it reminded me of what underpins it "One person – one vote – one value" and ask you to ponder on that before voting later. I remind you that there are other options available for you to adhere to your democratic principles.

You would be aware to "Divide and rule "Is not an unknown tactic used within all forms of government. It is well organised by those who know that "politicians come and go but the bureaucracy lives for ever". In that area Eurobodalla has a supreme ranking. It cannot be denied that six of the former councillors are not here today owing to elector lack of confidence in the council as a whole. There was community revolt with respect to the Rural Lands Strategy, a divided LEP, the South East Regional Strategy, Reclassification and Sale of Public Lands, People Penalising Policies – in particular the dehumanising "Gerondal "affair accompanied with perceived conflict of interest. All these were planning matters suggesting a review of the Planning Department with respect to its functions warranted.

Members hold onto your hats – more "scalps "will be quickly added to the collection by linking approval of a much needed and legitimate development with unnecessary emphasis to council's outdated and somewhat communistic Biodiversity policy.

This policy was modelled by current legislation which is now under review – A policy which the Minister describes as "overly complex and process driven." It is to be reviewed to facilitate the conservation of biodiversity and support sustainable development. The revision will be comprehensive and amongst other many issues whether the current Legislation remains valid and reflects best practice.

Mr Mayor. Only last week major media statements listed the Eurobodalla as equal 4th "Nastiest Council in NSW" out of 152 with respect to complaints and code of conduct*. An extremely serious reflection on the image of this council and that of the community.

Is the General Manager aware of the nature of all of these complaints referred to by the Local Government Minister and are there any other issues raised at council or open council meetings she needs to attend to?

Councillors I believe you should meet urgently with the General Manager and call for a review by independent consultants. It is suggested that be on the lines of a previous independents consultant's report which revealed quite serious administrative and managerial problems. There is no doubt it should pay particular attention to the Eurobodalla Planning Department which has drawn hundreds of residents to protest meeting and continues to attract widespread editorial comment and division of elected representatives.

Many divisions can arise due to insufficient, dubious and suppressed information, unbalanced reporting plagiarisms, personal and hidden agendas. Not to mention inaccurate or no scientific and legislative information supplied to those required to make the correct decision. These sometimes lead to false accusation of some being "antidevelopment" or that "no emphasis has been exhibited by the local representatives" for the provision of a corner shop and other community facilities, for example, Potato Point.

My Mayor I must say that to stifle debate and deny the right of the public to speak on the rescission motion listed is extremely undemocratic and a far cry from your editorial. In this regards could I be advised which clauses support that ruling in councils own Code of Meeting Practice, Local Government Model Code of Practice or Local Government Act?


Council's Response 

Currently, there are two avenues for members of the public to engage with Council.  This can be done through Non –Agenda Public Forum and Public Forum. 

As you would be aware, Non- agenda public forum is an opportunity for members of the public to speak to Council on issues that are not listed on the meeting agenda.  These sessions are held prior to the Council meeting and are not included in the minutes of the Council meeting.  If a member of the community speaks at these sessions their presentations are typed and included under the Non-Agenda Public Forum page on our website.  If a response is required, staff will respond via writing directly to the speaker. 

Agenda Public Forum provides members of the public the opportunity to present to Council on an issue that they are considering at that meeting.  These presentations are included as attachments to the minutes.  A response from staff is usually not required as the speaker is presenting to the Council on a matter that is put before them for consideration.

As requested, I have enclosed a copy of each of your presentations to non-agenda and agenda items dated back to February 2013 and Council's response to those questions.  Outstanding questions from 12 August and 9 September 2014 non-agenda public forums have been addressed below.

We are currently in the process of reviewing Council's Code of Meeting Practice and as part of this process, Councillors will be briefed on the process for responses to non-agenda items.