Jonathan Mobbs - 10 April 2018
Johnathan Mobbs made the below comments at the Ordinary Council Meeting 10 April 2018.
Address by Jonathan D. Mobbs
Thank you Mayor and councillors, for the opportunity to address you on the matter of Council process. I will get straight to the point and I will be brief.
On 15 February this year, 120 community members attended the "Our Town Our Say" public meeting in Batemans Bay. With the exception of one or two members of Council's Sunset Committee and Councillor McGinlay, attendees agreed on a set of five resolutions that they wished to see submitted to this Council. The resolutions were quite serious in their intent and they focussed on the manner in which Council was proceeding with the redevelopment of Mackay Park and the proposed removal of the 50-metre Olympic swimming pool.
Those resolutions were typed on one A4 page. One page.
It was supremely optimistic of me to hope that at least one of the Sunset Committee members or Councillor McGinlay or Council's own media monitoring officers might have alerted you that this matter was creating ongoing community concern and might therefore be worthy of being an agenda item at a subsequent Council meeting.
Therefore on 21 February, I completed my role as MC for the meeting, by posting those 5 resolutions to the Mayor under cover of a one-page letter. The same day, I also sought, by email, registration for the Public Access Forum on Tuesday 27 February. On 26 February I was advised that my letter to the Mayor had not been received and I therefore emailed a copy.
I spoke to you at the forum on 27 February and was given a fair hearing, including extra time. I tabled the single page of 5 resolutions. Apart from one or two attempts at questions, which were quickly shut down, there was no discussion.
On Friday, 30th March, I received by email, a copy of a polite letter from the Mayor, in response to mine of 21 February- 27 business days earlier. In the light of what has happened in this chamber recently, I will read from the final paragraph of that letter, as follows:
"The resolutions from the public meeting of 15 February were not provided to Council until the day prior to the Council meeting on 27 February. As I explained at the Council Meeting (27 February), a less than one-day turnaround does not give councillors sufficient time to consider the matter raised."
However, Councillors, on 27 March this year, in this chamber, you managed to read, absorb and analyse a densely typed 15-page Mayoral Report in 15 minutes! Then, with one exception, youcommitted what many observers saw as a dishonourable act, by confidently voting for the related Mayoral Minute and thus becoming complicit in a thinly veiled attempt to silence community dissent
In the light of the Mayor's earlier statement to me on turnaround time, how did you manage that feat? It is truly remarkable!
Of course, if you hadn't read and understood the Mayoral Report, it would have been a further breach of proper process to vote for the Mayoral Minute anyway.
For outstanding individual achievements, I am therefore tabling for Councillors Pollock, Constable, Tait, Brown and Thomson, these highly prized Certificates of Speed Reading Ability. You've earned them.
Councillor Mayne does not receive one, since he at least had the honesty to admit that he hadn't managed to read the Mayoral Report during his 15-minute break.
In case the Mayor and councillors fail to detect feelings of disgust, despair, distrust and disrespect that underlie my address today, they are the same feelings that have led me to add my signature to the Class Action Code of Conduct Complaint that has been lodged with the Office of Local Government. I won't comment further on that complaint here, since it is probably sub judice within the OLG at this point.
Hopefully though, the OLG will see fit to discard the wet feather that they usually apply in such matters and apply something a little heavier this time. Hopefully they can make this Council and its Executive Staff realise that they do not exist for their own amusement or benefit but for the people who elect them, employ them, expect them to work on behalf of the community, and who pay their allowances and wages.
Councillors, the behaviour that you've shown recently is not right and in my view, it's not a proper exercise of good process. It may be tactically clever and perhaps someone in the back rooms of Council believes that she can show Machiavelli a thing or two - but you may just find that in the end, you win the battle but lose the war. Truth will out.
It's time to rethink.
Thank you for listening.