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Norman Moore - 28 February 2017

Norman Moore made comments regarding the James Gee memorial project at the Ordinary Council Meeting 28 February 2017.

Dr Dale, Mayor, & Councillors -I refer to a meeting of Art and Heritage committees last November, regarding the James Gee memorial in Russ Martin Park.

I mailed Lindsay Usher- "I would not be giving a lecture on heritage and required 10 minutes to set up a display."

A 3 tonne module of the project was set up at 7 am. None had made effort to see it previously at Moruya markets or show -where it has won four awards for art & heritage.

I arrived at 2-40 for a 3pm meeting to find the door to chambers barricaded with furniture and was left standing in a wind-blown alley way. There was no apology from Lindsay Usher when admitted at 3 pm and complained of no time to set a display. I was told it wasn't needed & informed by Councillor Nathan she had thoroughly researched the history-offered a lame excuse in reference to the park, and proceeded with advice.

It seemed 'decisions' had been made-my agenda would not be followed, and this would be an 'ad hoc' show. To see what was 'afoot,' I offered only token information & left the main of my agenda in my car.

Next, I endured humiliation of this town's pioneers-their heritage, myself, and my years as an Historian. Not once did I hear the word OUR amongst the following suggestions in reference to the heritage involved.

1. The offer of a plaque -I regarded as unprofessional, convenient and lazy!

2. Placed in the local museum -with neither space -security -connection to heritage -facilities for parking -and seldom open -ridiculous!

3. Placed in Batemans Bay museum-where Moruya residents & school students require transport to learn of their town's history-disgraceful!

4. Placed in the Men's shed - located in high school grounds - open Fridays - security passes needed by the public - dosed school holidays and a shipping container for storage - no comment needed!

5. Placed in Mogo Town - with no connection to the original gold rush town, or history of Moruya,' - doing a fine job but NOT ORIGINAL as advertised.

Mention of a Heritage Centre was scoffed at by councillor Brown - unaware of a previous petition signed by 600 residents (including 400 business owners) and placed on council agenda. (I refer this to Councillor Pollock)

To Councillor Nathan (in particular) and members of committees -if as claimed, you had "thoroughly researched" everything , --you would know this :

1. The Russ Martin Park area - previously called the Ferry Reserve - is the point from where Moruya 'grew'. River crossing was via a canoe paddled by a convict. The first white woman crossed this way in 1835. Gee's forge was adjacent!

2. The Araluen gold rush seen 4 ships weekly unloading diggers & supplies - and store keepers prospering by running the teams of packhorses needed.

3. Moruya was the first port to ship gold in Australia. The Silver Mine held the first payable silver deposit in the S. Hemisphere. Ore was shipped to London & Germany 1890. Moruya silver was prized by English Flute Makers. Sir Saul Samuel opened the mine in 1862 and was Australia's first Post Master General.

4. Moruya was the largest supplier of potatoes in the Colony with 7 ships in waiting to load. With this - our timber - farming produce & granite - we played a large part in the building of Sydney Town & the Colony of NSW.

The advent of Blacksmith Gee occurred midst this momentous period in OUR history - having already made his mark as Horseman in Charge - in Australia's first great cattle drive -Moruya to Adelaide. His part in the naming of Moruya's main street - now legendary.

A sound system will explain much of this for visitors - but must be set in conjunction with a pictorial display accomplished via a pictorial ceramic tile edging along Russ Martin park - (with seating, and the like.)

Our Art Community should come to the fore here - encouraging and tutoring participants in displaying stories of aboriginals, settlers, bushrangers, police, churches, schools and the many avenues of evolvement of our communities.

This is what many business owners have indicated to me - "Somewhere to send tourists, where they can quickly access and enjoy a 'compact & precise vision' of the Eurobodalla" - without leaving in confusion, anger or disappointment - and further spreading word of their feelings!

Please take notice of a petition I now submit - containing 1,000 (one thousand) signatures (including Andrew Constance and Fiona Phillips) and references from several organizations.

It does not allude to the Ceramic Tile concept - a splendid idea from several Moruya business owners - but is accompanied by diagram and detail.

Questions the public & business owners want answers to:

1. What is the duty of Council's Heritage officer and why has he not attended to this heritage in the 8 years of his term in council.

2. Why was the council given a $25,000 grant 2009 -2011 to employ a Heritage Architect - for a heritage study that was done by volunteers and wrongly addressed by Stephen Halicki.

3. What is the duty of council's Director of Art -Kathy Arthur, and why has there not been effort made to showcase the heritage described thru various art programs?

4. Why is there no one on the Art & Heritage committees with building & structural skills, interest and knowledge of Moruya's heritage, and better understanding of how to implement this project?

5. Finally - Is there a Councillor willing to represent the interests of Moruya residents?

Council's Reply

Thank you for your presentation on the James Gee sculpture to Council on 28 February. You have raised a number of issues regarding the matter, which I will endeavour to address.

As you would be aware, you forwarded a request in January 2013 regarding the James Gee sculpture proposal. This was referred to Council’s Public Art Advisory committee for consideration. At the Council meeting held on 23 April 2013 Council decided not to progress with this project.

Council staff notified you regarding the matter at that time.

In 2016, you requested a meeting to present the James Gee sculpture and associated heritage information and resources to the Chairs of both the Heritage and Public Art Advisory committees, being Clr Maureen Nathan and Clr Lindsay Brown. A meeting was held on 22 November in which Councillors and relevant staff attended.

You have raised a number of issues in your presentation in relation to this meeting which I would like to address. Council representatives endeavoured to assist you by viewing the sculpture in situ (given its size and weight), and options for housing the sculpture were offered in good faith and with courtesy.