Mambo Fight Continues – 01 Oct 2017 Protest at Site

Update 01 October 2017

Oct 01 2017: Mambo wetland angst sparks rally

Oct 01 2017: Port Stephens Koalas launches ‘Go Fund Me’ page

A successful protest meeting was held today at the Mambo wetlands site at 11 am to discuss the lodging of a DA for the site by the new owner. Speakers included, the PS Mayor Ryan Palmer, Councillors John Nell, Jaimie Abbott, Giacomo Arnott, representatives of the PS Koala Protection group, Ecconetwork and our own Nigel Waters. The meeting was chaired by Kathy Brown and about 300 enthusiastic people turned out in the middle of a Grand final long weekend. The sausage sizzle and the coffee van did a roaring trade and the hat was passed around raising nearly $1,400.00 for the campaign ahead.

Protestors were urged to make written submissions or objection letters to Council before they consider this application by 27 Oct 2017.

Letters of concern the the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scott McDonald, the Minister who has responsibility for this ‘Mistake,” to remind him that admitting this was good, but fixing it by reversing the process would be even better.

Mambo Wetland Threat – What you can do
Mambo Wetland Threat – Key points for Submissions
The Mambo DA Plan
25 Sept 2017 Update on Mambo Wetlands Development.
 Development Application (2017/620) has been lodged for a $600,000 duplex on the site.

25 Sept 2017: Koalas in Key land conflict

From the EcconetPS Facebook page

ICAC Report – Operation Spicer Report Released 30 Aug 2016

Earlier Story 12 December 2015 : ICAC Still Under Threat

Newcastle Herald 01 Sept: OPINION: Sorry Mike, this time sorry is not enough

Media Release, (A Must Read), Fact Sheet and (Full Report, 168 Pages, 16MB!) available for download on ICAC webite HERE. Seat of Port Stephens pages 152 -153

Continually Updated Press Clippings Below Stories……….. 24 Nov 2016

Even More ICAC Stories: HERE

ICAC Operation Spicer Report Released August 30 2016

This long awaited report has now been released. This Operation started in early 2014! The results are a damning indictment of our election funding system. It appears that all the legal action and the Cuneen High Court diversion has had the desired effect: the powers of the Commission to declare people ‘corrupt’ have been reduced and the findings delayed long enough to avoid prosecutions by the Election Funding Authority (EFA), (now abolished and absorbed into the NSW Electoral Commission) from taking any action because of the statute of limitations.

Laws have obviously been broken but only four prosecutions have been recommended, all for related matters, (one for corruption as a Public Official), one for Larceny (stealing) and two for allegedly ‘misleading’ the Commission. The only damage to the rest is to their ‘reputations’.

TRRA’s Experience with the EFA

icac-inquiry-into-mcgurks-death-after-nsw-data_20150418123120Under the current law donations do not have to be declared for up to a year after the election. The statute of limitations is set at three years so a third of it is gone before we even get to see the declarations. This leaves two years for people to question the veracity and implications and bring it to the attention of the EFA.

Our experience with the EFA, when we bought serious matters to their attention after the declarations were made for the 2012 Local Government elections, was that we never did get any useful response from the EFA itself, only from the Electoral Commission. We were told that “Your email has also been referred to the NSW Electoral Commission to reply to you directly in respect to the matters raised in your enquiry that relate to the conduct of the election. The Election Funding Authority will be in contact with you if we have any questions or require further information from you.” They never did, despite our serious allegations of funding discrepancies.

We followed up our submission with a string of emails for another three months and finally got the response: “I hope you can appreciate that we are currently in the process of undertaking compliance audits on the almost 10,000 declarations received by our office for the 2013 reporting period. Each declaration lodged is audited and during each audit we take into account any complaints received by us. This process does take a significant amount of time due to the volume and complexity of the work.” Eventually we ended up with a curt: “As indicated in my email to you dated 18 December 2013, the matters you have raised with the Authority will be dealt with in accordance with the Authority’s Audit Policy and Compliance Policy. The Authority does not comment in respect to its handling of any matter.” So there……!

We can only assume that our complaint must have been towards the end of the 10,000 and they just did not get to it before the time ran out, but of course they don’t even have to tell us about it anyway! Some indication that the maters we raised were even considered, wrong, irrelevant, or correct but we are not going to do anything about it would have helped. They said that the matters would be considered in the audit process, but we will never know if they were. Why do we bother?

We have read in related coverage that this department was completely under resourced and we have yet to hear of any prosecutions, or even the paltry fines prescribed in the original legislation. They have now beefed up the fines, (after the horse has bolted) but if no one is enforcing them what is the point?  This one was set up by the politicians, for the politicians…..

Local Government elections are being held around the State right now in the areas not affected the amalgamations. We will find out who donated what in December 2017!

TRRA Media Officer: Dick Appleby

NSW Electoral Commission Finally awakes from 5 year slumber:
  • Key points:
    • Free Enterprise Foundation was used to “disguise” donations, report says
    • Foundation used to offer anonymity to favorable donors, including property developers
    • Campaign funding won’t be paid to Liberal Party until full disclosures made

Sydney Morning Herald 29 March 2016: Assistant minister Angus Taylor discussed Free Enterprise Foundation with key fundraiser

Newcastle Herald 25 March 2016: NSW Liberals may lose $4m in donor cloud

ABC News 24 March 2016: Liberal Party used ‘charitable’ Free Enterprise Foundation to disguise donations: NSW Electoral Commission

Sydney Morning Herald 23 March 2016: NSW Liberals down $4 million over hundreds of thousands in donations cloud

Sydney Morning Herald 23 March 2016: NSW Liberals ‘concealed’ illegal donors before 2011 election win

Levine - Latham


Inspector Levine – Commissioner Latham

More from ICAC, as it happens:

Sydney Morning Herald 24 Nov 2016: Margaret Cunneen’s prayers answered: ICAC commissioner Megan Latham resigns

Sydney Morning Herald 24 Nov 2016: ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham’s removal either a bungle or pure political cowardice 

Sydney Morning Herald 24 Nov 2016: Who will replace Megan Latham in ICAC’s top Job

Sydney Morning Herald 23 Nov 2016: ICAC chief’s resignation ‘sets back corruption fighting by years’ 

Sydney Morning Herald 23 Nov 2016: ICAC Chief Quits after being forced to reapplied for Job

 ABC News 23 Nov 2016: ICAC commissioner resigns just days after Government passed legislation which effectively sacked her

Newcastle Herald 18 Nov 2016 – Editorial: Premier Mike Baird’s changes to ICAC are a bad look for this government 

Sydney Morning Herald 16 Nov 2016: ‘The perception is that this is corrupt’: former ICAC assistant commissioner Anthony Whealy blasts Mike Baird

Sydney Morning Herald 16 Nov 2016: Arthur Sinodinos may benefit from Mike Baird’s ICAC overhaul

ABC PM Radio Program 16 Nov 2016: Political motives suspected behind ICAC changes  (Click on Sound Bar for Audio)

ABC News 16 November 2016: ICAC explained: Why it was established, who has been grilled by it, what the future holds

ABC News 16 November 2016: ICAC: Former anti-corruption commissioners attack ‘scandalous’ overhaul plan

Sydney Morning Herald 15 Nov: Labor baulks at ICAC reform without Megan Latham as commissioner

Sydney Morning Herald 15 Nov: Premier Mike Baird risks being known as the man who destroyed ICAC 

Newcastle Herald 15 November 2016: Labor baulks at ICAC reform without Megan Latham as commissioner 

ABC News 15 November 2016: ICAC: Sweeping changes to NSW watchdog might see Megan Latham lose job

Newcastle Herald 27 October 2016: Editorial – ICAC reform must preserve public hearings

Newcastle Herald 22 Sept 2016: Former Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell repays 

Sydney Morning Herald 11 Sept 2016: Former ICAC boss David Ipp slams ‘egregious’ plan to restructure agency

Sydney Morning Herald 08 Sept 2016: Call to replace ICAC chief with three commissioners

Newcastle Herald 02 Sept 2016: IAN KIRKWOOD: Former Hunter Liberal MPs on the pressures of ICAC

Examiner 02 Sept 2016: Craig Baumann critical of ICAC’s Operation Spicer 

Newcastle Herald 02 Sept 2016: IAN KIRKWOOD: Operation Spicer was an overkill  (Must be two versions of this report and its Findings out there….!)

Sydney Morning Herald 01 Sept 2016: Arthur Sinodinos accused of potentially misleading Parliament over donations scam 

ABC News 31 Aug 2016: ICAC: NSW Liberal figures and businessmen tried to evade political funding laws, report finds

Newcastle Herald 31 Aug 2016: ICAC Operation Spicer: Foley calls for ‘justice’ for Hunter

Newcastle Herald 31 Aug 2016: Hilton Grugeon hits back at ICAC and counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson

Newcastle Herald 31 Aug 2016: Jodi McKay and Jeff McCloy trade barbs over ICAC’s Operation Spicer report 

Sydney Morning Herald 30 Aug 2016: Why Mike Baird should allow the debate on prosecution of former Liberals

Sydney Morning Herald 30 Aug 2016: Mike Baird letting former Liberal MPs ‘off the hook’ in donations probe, says Labor

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC Operation Spicer: election was stolen from me, McKay

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: Former lord mayor McCloy hits back at ICAC 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: Port of Newcastle skullduggery plays major part in Operation Spicer findings 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC Operation Spicer: Gallacher says he’s going nowhere despite findings. 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: MPs have paid price, says Baird 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC Operation Spicer: Baird closes door on ex Hunter MPs

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016Tripodi only person recommended for charges out of ICAC port examination 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC: “Serious corruption” for former Labor power broker Joe Tripodi 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC Operation Spicer: the main players 

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC’s Operation Spicer report live: the findings revealed | video

Newcastle Herald 30 Aug 2016: ICAC’s Operation Spicer report: Two years in the making 

OPINION: Musing on Mergers – Out of the frying pan, into…..?

PS CouncilThis clip is from an article in the Herald recently (28 May 2016 HERE) about the rail corridor, and sums up my thinking for some time on what will come out of the merger process:

“An amalgamation between Newcastle and Port Stephens has been put on the backburner pending further investigation of an alternative proposal to merge Port Stephens with Dungog, but many councillors expect the original proposal to proceed.

Under the amalgamation process, at least two elected representatives from each council will be appointed to an Implementation Advisory Group and continue to be paid fees. A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Paul Toole said appointments would be made by the administrator and might not necessarily include mayors.

Councillors could also nominate to sit on a Local Representation Committee, which would include other community members.

Mr. Toole said recently the “interim governance arrangements” would ensure “effective implementation and continued local representation” until elections for new councils were held in September 2017.

Mr. Baird’s spokesperson said no decision on the Newcastle-Port Stephens merger had been made.”

We now have the full Delegates report on the NCC/PSC merger to the Boundaries Commission and the Minister. Given that Mr. Ian Reynolds saw fit to acknowledge the overwhelming level of resistance from the communities in their attendances at his public hearings and in all their written submissions, but just dismissed all the issues raised with: “There is no impediment to the Proposal proceeding” on all 12 criteria that he had to consider, we see this Proposal proceeding as planned.

The PSC/Dungog merger proposal was ignored by the Government until PSC threatened legal action, then another delegate was appointed to look into that, but the possibility of him acting on public submissions or submitting a dissenting report on what the Government obviously decided six months ago, we see as highly unlikely. The delay has just moved another messy merger to the other side of the Federal Election campaign to take the heat off Paterson and Lyne.

Dungog We Luv U

We are aware from discussions with NCC and Dungog Councillors, that despite his strong public support for the Dungog merger, rumors abound that our present General Manager has been involved in preliminary interviews for the GM’s job in the proposed NCC/PSC merger. He has been involved in several mergers in previous roles and his CV and present role would probably make him a strong contender for the position. Classic two bob each way.

Our Mayor and his supporters on Council have very publically opposed the reform process and have been vocally critical of the Government and the Minister, so would probably not be asked to fill a role in the interim governance or the implementation phase. Some of their recent decisions, particularly about S94 funds etc. are starting to look a bit desperate, the penny is dropping that they may not be there for much longer and will try to clean out the kitty and push through a few questionable projects before they go.

It is a bitter/sweet result for us as ratepayers, it will definitely clean out the ‘boys club’ that has dominated our Council for some years, but I wonder what the Government has in mind to replace it with. There is no reason that I can see for the Government to cancel the scheduled Council elections for this September, other than to implement their own Agenda State wide, by suspending the democratic process and appointing handpicked administrators to do their bidding unopposed in the interim 17 months.

Let us fervently hope that we are not being flipped out of the frying pan and into the fire…….. We will find out early July.

Dick Appleby, TRRA Media Officer

PS: Will we be Hunter Coast Council as the Delegate says, Port Castle Council, New Port Council, Castle Stephens Council, Dungport or Portdung Council? It is a bit of a worry ……! What do you think it should be called?

May 12 2016 – TRRA Update On Council Mergers

*Breaking News*: Newcastle Herald 12 May 2016:  NSW Council amalgamations announced by Premier Mike Baird  

“Mike Baird has just announced that 19 new Councils will be formed across the state through amalgamations. Administrators and interim general managers have been appointed to each of the new councils, which will hold their elections until September next year – 12 months later than those not being merged.”

“Newcastle, Port Stephens, Maitland and Dungog are yet to discover their fate while Gloucester is listed among those disappearing into new entities”

“Three public inquiries have been scheduled. They are for 12am to 4pm June 8 at Nelson Bay Diggers, 7pm to 10pm June 8 at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club, and 7pm to 10pm June 9 at Dungog Memorial RSL.

Submissions will remain open until June 26.”


So the Premier has decided to clear the decks before the Federal Election, leaving a few swinging seats until afterwards. It has already been announced that PSC’s proposal to merge with Dungog will be open for comment until 26 June so that takes it right up to the Federal Election 02 July before the decision will be announced, probably in the aftermath of the election when nobody is listening. 

Our Council seems to have adopted the Federal Government’s mantra of “Jobs and Growth,” our Councillors and GM’s own jobs and the growth of the size of the LGA. In a desperate bid to hold onto their jobs and little bit of power, the Councillors and our GM have appropriated another $20,000.00 of ratepayers money to promote the Dungog proposal on top of the $200,000.00 that they have spent fighting the Newcastle one. All we have seen of that so far is a few soggy sausage sandwiches at the public rallies. TRRA are pretty sure this decision was already made 6 months ago, it is just a matter of when it will be announced. 

Mea culpa!….. Apologies to Rotary who supplied the Sausage sandwiches.  we have been assured by all who partook that they were excellent, and a lot more palatable than some of the speeches………… !

TRRA Wrote to Councillors on 01 May 2016:

“Having considered the business case for the Merger with Dungog, TRRA is not convinced of the merits of advocating a union with a Council which was judged by IPART to be “unfit for the future”. The ILGRP indicated that Dungog Shire Council did not appear financially sustainable and noted that it had received a ‘distressed’ rating in DLG’s Infrastructure Audit. ILGRP also noted that Dungog Council had its own reservations about its capacity to meet infrastructure obligations in the medium term.
TRRA has not found sufficient evidence in the business case to demonstrate any benefits for Port Stephens ratepayers in a merger with Dungog Council. That council is responsible for a sparsely populated area 2.5 times greater than our current LGA with only 6,700 electors to foot the bill for an extensive network of rural roads and bridges. IPART found Dungog not to meet the benchmark for asset maintenance and infrastructure.
TRRA also queries the extent of community of interest with Dungog whose residents might be expected to relate more to Maitland and Newcastle than Raymond Terrace or other areas of Port Stephens.”

Here is the latest political spray from our Mayor:
PS Converse (Audio) – Episode 16 12 May 2016 – Alan Jones, Bruce MaKenzie on Council Mergers and Politics
Examiner 12 May 2016: Minister for Local Government Paul Toole refuses to take Port Stephens-Newcastle council option off the Table 

Government Proclamation: Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamation 2016 


Dungog We Luv U

Is this the new Port Stephens promotion logo?

Dungog-PSC 1PSC was set to take legal action to force the Minister for Local Government to hold an inquiry into its proposal for a merger with Dungog Council. An Extraordinary Meeting was called for Monday 2 May 2016 to appropriate another $50,000.00 of ratepayers money for legal fees to take the State Government to the Supreme Court, because PSC’s perception was that their proposal for a merger with Dungog Council did not appear to be under proper consideration by the Government.

According to their Press release (Link Below) the Council that day received a letter advising that a decision has been made to appoint a delegate to inquire into the PSC/ Dungog merger proposal.  No timing was indicated in the letter.

Some more work will be needed to thoroughly assess the Council’s proposal and the Morrison Low report, to see if we consider it is in the best interests of our ratepayers. Our initial comments to Councillors are in the link below.


Newcastle Herald May 12 2016 (late): Hunter local government leaders lash Baird over council merger plans | poll 

Sydney Morning Herald 12 May 2016: Council amalgamations: Elected officials out and administrators in after Mike Baird sacks 42 councils


 09 March 2016: PSC’s Merger Proposal for Port Stephens Council and Dungog Shire Council (PDF 4MB)

 Examiner 11 May 2016: Port Stephens Council approves $20,000 publicity campaign to merge with Dungog 

02 May 2016: Notice: Special PSC Meeting Re Dungog Merger 

 01 May 2016: TRRA Letter To Councillors Re Dungog Merger 

Examiner 29 April 2016: Port Stephens Council wants Dungog option reviewed under threat of legal action

 Newcastle Herald 02 May 2016: Port Stephens Council will take state government to court to have Dungog option heard 

PSC Website 02 May 2016: Delegate’s appointment sees extraordinary meeting cancelled

Are The Mambo Wetlands Under Threat?

07 Sept 2017: Mambo Sale among $9 billion in asset sales

Update 04 October 2016

There has been a major initiative from the Hunter Koala Protection Society to highlight the loss of Koala habitat and to promote the idea of a Koala Hospital for the area. The proposed site is the old Samurai, now TreeEscape site at One Mile Beach, Crown Land, Leased by PSC. There has been saturation coverage of this campaign in the Examiner of late. TRRA has invited RON LAND, the Vice president of the Society to address this as the guest speaker at our TRRA AGM, Tuesday 18 September 2016, 7:00 pm at the Nelson Bay Bowling Club. – Press release HERE

We now discover that the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter has belatedly admitted that the Mambo wetlands site was sold off by ‘mistake’ and we have finally found out who bought it.

Examiner 27 Sept 2016: Scott MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, says Mambo sale shouldn’t have happened.

Newcastle Herald 28 Sept 2016: Port Stephens MP Kate Washington asks government to reverse Mambo Wanda wetlands sale.

**Saturday 22 Oct 2016: Come and walk the Mambo Wetlands**

This is an initiative by the Greens to draw attention to the Mambo Wetlands issue, save the date…..

95 Spectacular Pictures of the fauna and flora of Mambo Wetlands By Guy Innes, Available to download HERE  (Caution Large PDF File, 25 MB, give it time to load) Can we afford to lose any of this?
Guy Innes: ‘Let Mambo Breathe!’ 

What you can do: 160524 Mambo Wetlands forum – handout

160607 TRRA Letter to Minister for Education & Community Services

0 Koala

Newcastle Herald 07 June 2016: Bidders meet reserve in sale of Salamander Bay land covering Mambo Wanda Wetlands | poll 

Newcastle Herald 06 June 2016: Port Stephens koala habitat at risk by ‘secret’ government land sale 

Examiner May 24 2016: Department of Education land sale prompts Save Mambo Wetlands forum 

Newcastle Herald 24 May 2016: Community forum to discuss school land sale at Salamander Bay

Newcastle Herald 24 May 2016:  Port Stephens Council urges Adrian Piccoli to ‘stop the clock’ on land sale 

Knight Frank Real Estate Promotion (Click on pictures in link)

Mambo Land Sale

Update 20 May 2016: Letter from Kate Washington MP to all Community Groups Re: ‘Save Mambo Wetlands’ Community Forum 5:45 PM Thursday 26 May 2016 Horizons Golf Course.  TRRA will be supporting this initiative, we will see you there!

Update 18 May 2016: We received A passionate email today HERE from a resident of Foreshore Drive that he has given permission to use, to assist in our submissions objecting to the sale of the 6 hectares of land in the wetlands currently owned by the Education Dept. who, it seems, have instructions from Mr Baird to sell off all surplus land.

Report on Community Meeting 14 May 2016 Below

Original Post –  12 May 2016 : Some very observant local activists noticed this ad in the Newcastle Herald Saturday 7 May 2016 and contacted PS Council for a response:

Mambo 5


“A number of Department of Education sites were listed for sale in the Newcastle Herald on 7 May 2016. We have received a number of queries in relation to these sites as have Councillors.

182 and 246-248 Port Stephens Dr and 10-14 Short Rd, Salamander Bay 

The land for sale includes seven lots, with six of the lots between 657m² and 680m² in size and one lot being 5.6ha in size (182 Port Stephens Drive). The sites are all zoned E2- Environmental Conservation and are currently heavily vegetated. Port Stephens Council owns the sites to the east and west of 182 Port Stephens Drive (see diagram below). The minimum lot size for subdivision of these lots is 40ha, with all of the lots being under Mambo 4this requirement. 

The constraints on the site include bushfire, acid sulphate soils, Koala habitat (supplementary) and flooding. The site is also subject to the provisions of SEPP 71 – Coastal Protection.

Council has not received any planning proposal to rezone the land or has had any meetings regarding the future development of these sites. The site is noted by the Office of Environmental Heritage as having high environmental value.  

Under the current environmental zoning, any future development is limited and must be in accordance with the Local Environmental Plan.”

Mambo 3

TRRA contacted Walter Lamond, Chair of the 355B Landcare Group that has been caring for the site on behalf of the local residents for the last 20 years and he indicated that although they were aware of who owned the land, they had no indication that the department had now designated the land as surplus to requirements and that it was to be sold off in an online auction on 9 June 2016. He also indicated that an application

Mambo 1

had been put in some time in 2011 for all the Mambo Wetlands to be declared an Aboriginal place, because artifacts etc. had been found on the site.

Mambo 2

Local Member Kate Washington has been contacted and is investigating this proposal and has put a question in Parliament to the Education Minister.

The Mambo Wetlands Community Group has set up a Facebook Page and have arranged for NBN3 TV to cover a meeting they are having on Saturday 14 May 2016 at 10:00 am at the site and have asked concerned people and local Community Groups to show support.

The Maps show the site bounded by Foreshore Drive and Port Stephens Drive with Council land on either side, and this is all in what most of the Community thought was the Mambo Wetlands Reserve.

Dick Appleby – TRRA MEDIA Officer

Examiner 12 may 2016: Department of Education lists Salamander Bay and Fullerton Cove properties for sale 

Newcastle Herald 12 May 2016:  Port Stephens Drive school land sale at Salamander Bay sparks Mambo Wanda wetlands fears


Update 14 May 2016 – Community Meeting: The meeting at the Mambo Wetlands site was very well attended by about 120 people, which shows what can be done when local community groups work together to mobilize their membership at short notice on a good cause. 160514 Community Meeting The meeting was addressed by State MP Kate Washington,  Federal Labor Candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson, representatives of the Greens, community groups including TRRA. NBN3 TV arrived towards the end of the meeting and interviewed some of the speakers.

The community gathering on 14 May 2016 endorsed, by acclamation, the plan put forward by Walter Lamond of the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Landcare Committee that was as follows:






Letters: MP’S Actions Prove Costly

Examiner – Letters to the Editor 12 April 2016: MP’s actions prove costly

 DoohanThis letter probably requires a  response from TRRA as well. Clr. Doohan should put on his boxing gloves and give himself an uppercut for drawing this conclusion from the article in the Examiner, it is  just a cheap political shot. Kate Washington has made it pretty clear where she stands on this merger proposal from the Baird Government and Minister Toole, as have TRRA, it is the Government’s policy, they own it and it is state wide not just Port Stephens. If he wants to whinge, that would be a good place to start, not try to shift the blame elsewhere.  

Maybe TRRA should take some of the blame too, because we have complained long and hard to the Minister, the OLG and anyone who would listen about the decisions taken by Councilor Doohan and some of his mates. The one this week about the new ratepayer funded Medowie boozer is a classic and he is the main perpetrator, that is where $3.8 mil of our section 94 funds are going and that is only the first stage! There is a need for sports facilities in Medowie for young people, not this.

Newcastle Herald 04 Dec 2016: Port Stephens Councillor Chris Doohan is pushing for a new sports club. No alcohol, gambling for Medowie Club 

Newcastle Herald April 12 2016: Call for Medowie venue to “go for a beer together and watch sport” | poll

Now that they have blown the $200.00 K that they lifted out of our account to fight this merger, and what will it achieve? Probably Zilch! If anything their attitude is what will probably get them sacked by the Minister. Oh well, blame the Local Member, nothing to see here, it was not our fault! 

We are beginning to wonder if Clr. Dingle may be right, for Port Stephens the sooner the Government cleans this mob out the better we will be. Let’s hope they don’t do too much more damage before that happens and let’s hope that we get some say in the replacements! This blow-in only got in on the Mayor’s coattails anyway.

Kate in Examiner

Letters to the Port Stephens Examiner

MP’s actions prove costly

I WAS disgusted to read the story “Washington weathers mighty year of storms and stoushes [Examiner, April 7] marking Port MP Kate Washington’s first year in office.

In it she openly admitted to taking action which she believes “may have” led to the merger decision of Port Stephens and Newcastle.

Later, she publicly claimed to not agree with a merger and vowed to fight against it.

Was it because she realised the community was against it, and pulled out the turn-coat?

Well thanks Kate, the council and community have now had to fight and spend ratepayers money to prevent such a proposal taking place and  to undo your actions.

How very disappointing.

Chris Doohan

Deputy Mayor, Port Stephens

Report on Public Inquiry into Merger Proposal

Horizons Golf Club, Thursday 04 February 2016, 9:00am – 12:00pm

160204 Enquiry

Public Enquiry

Today I listened to the people of Port Stephens, individuals, representatives from Community Groups, their elected representatives on Council and the PS Council General Manager. There were about 46 speakers from all walks of life. In Raymond Terrace last week I listened to other speakers at a meeting of over 100 residents organised by Local MP Kate Washington. They all gave their heartfelt views on the Government’s proposal to Merge Port Stephens and Newcastle City Councils.

There were a few alternative proposals offered but nobody supported the current proposal. A few thought that, although they don’t support it, it may be inevitable and they that feared opposing it completely would leave them out of the process if it went ahead. If the Government is going to be bloody minded enough they could well be right. There has been a threat that recalcitrant Councils may be sacked and replaced by administrators by June.

Issues raised

The major issues that were identified were raised from many diverse points of view, but in essence they boiled down to:

  1. Flawed Process:  This must be a political decision by Government, because it went against its own Fit for the Future criteria, and was based on the flawed KPMG reports now discredited financial modelling. The recommended logical merger of NCC with Lake Macquarie Council was rejected, no credible logic provided for NCC/PSC merger. There is a lack of sufficiently detailed information made available to properly evaluate this proposal.
  2.  Unfair Representation:  Less Councillors would be available to service more people. Wards or numerical representation not spelled out in proposal.
  3. Financial Disadvantage:  Potential for asset stripping PSC’s long term Investments, projected rate increases, increased infrastructure backlog. Funding relies on making staff redundant, resulting in less service, unemployment. Savings largely illusory.
  4. Volunteer Organisations:  Fear of lack of continued support for Volunteers and for PSC’s extensive 355B Committees in larger merged Council.
  5. Fight the Government Proposal – Support the Status Quo:  Maintain the current Council, it was deemed Fit for the Future by IPART and is the best financially managed Council in the State. Newcastle is a poorly managed, financial basket case.

TRRA Analysis

TRRA supports the first four observations unequivocally and we are opposed to the current merger proposal. We think that if this particular merger process is forced on us by the State Government, that this community already understand that it is not in their best interests, and they will make their feelings known at the ballot box in the next State election. The timing of this means that it will probably affect the coming Federal election as well. We have an idea why Mr Baird and his Minister are doing this, but we wonder if the political damage sustained will be worth it in the long run. The passion exhibited at these public meetings so far is unlikely to subside, and there are more being planned.

However, we think that the current Council, through its slick community engagement process and constant release of PR to the media has mislead the ratepayers of Port Stephens into believing that observation number 5 is correct as well. The message that our Council is one of the best financially administered in the State and was declared ‘Fit for the Future’ is repeated by the Mayor his supporters on Council and his PR people at every opportunity.  TRRA have well and truly debunked this myth HERE. If more ratepayers regularly attended Council Meetings as some of the TRRA Committee do, and saw some of the goings on in the chamber first hand they might not be so quick to swallow this line.  We know why they got rid of the webcam!

The Mayor and his supporters on Council are canny political operators (as seen in the last Council election) and they have gauged the public’s reaction to this proposal as an enormous opportunity to use the situation created to their own political advantage. They are now riding the massive wave of emotion created by this proposal to protect their own little fiefdom and run a re-election campaign to maintain the status quo.

They have even misappropriated 200K of ratepayer’s money to fund it. $80 K of this will go to a ‘Consultant’ just to prepare a submission opposing the merger. The rest will be spent on sausage sizzles, public meetings, media advertising and letter drops to keep the frenzy going until they achieve their aim. If they succeed in stopping the merger I can just hear Bruce’s victory speech telling us how he ‘saved’ Port Stephens and all we need to do to stay ‘safe’ is to re-elect him and his supporters.

Make no mistake, that is this Councils ultimate goal. No one from Council that I have heard has advocated for anything else. TRRA are listening to some of the thinking people’s ideas at these meetings about embracing reform as the way forward and buttressing our Councils future by exploring alternative proposals that may provide better solutions, instead of just shifting a boundary up past the Hunter river. This is what our Councillors should have been looking at in November when the Minister asked them for their proposals. They refused to even discuss it, despite Clrs Dingle, Nell and Kafer asking them to.

TRRA think that this would be a more appropriate way of spending the 200K if they really want to spend our money on this issue. It is now obvious that the ratepayers don’t need any more convincing about how bad the current proposal is. This money is about to be wasted.

Some Councillors constantly denigrate Newcastle City Council and its Mayor, accuse them of being politically driven and fiscally reckless at every opportunity. People need to see this for what it is, pure politics.  This group were not saying any of this when the notorious developer Lord Mayor McCloy was running the show down there.  Unfortunately his habit of emulating a political ATM (his description), distributing brown paper bags to politicians from the back seat of his Bentley bought that to a timely end. Now that the Newcastle people have put the Greens and Labor back in charge, it is open slather with the politics again.

Our financial unit has looked at the Books in Newcastle and compared them to the PSC accounts and at least given them a big tick for transparency and accountability to the public, which is more than can be said for the PSC books. (See the Link Above)


TRRA recommend that ratepayers consider these points, discuss them with your neighbours and friends and put your own conclusions in as a submission if you are so inclined.

  • Issues 1-4 above are a major concern for TRRA in analysing this proposed merger, and it should be rejected by this community for the reasons outlined above.
  • Issue number 5 is of even more concern. Expending $200k fighting the State Government in order to maintain the status Quo at Port Stephens Council, without looking at other alternatives, is not the solution to Local Government reform or a sustainable financial or environmental future for our community.
  • Don’t be sucked in by the copious amounts of political fertilizer being strewn around by politicians, Mayors and Councillors. Take a little time to look at some of the research done by the TRRA Management Committee and other Community groups on this subject on our website HERE. Read the ‘What the Papers Say!’ links that are regularly updated. (don’t forget the ‘comments’ underneath the articles, to see what others really think) Make up your own mind what you think and discuss it with your friends. Come to TRRA meetings and share your thoughts with us.
  • Be thankful that we still live in a democracy.

***PS: As I write this report, news articles in the Examiner and the Herald are adding updates to earlier articles reporting on the reaction in Newcastle to the claims being made at Horizons this morning by our Council about the financial state of Newcastle City Council. The first casualty in any war is always the truth. Fasten your seat bells this could be a long, rough ride…….

Examiner 04 Feb 2016: Salamander Bay public inquiry into Port Stephens and Newcastle merger 

Newcastle Herald  04 Feb 2016: Council merger would cost $20 million, Port Stephens general manager Wayne Wallis tells inquiry 

Newcastle now best performing Hunter council

Dick Appleby,  TRRA Vice President, TRRA Media Officer

Minister Toole’s Belated Response To Background Briefing Program


Macka 3Update 17 December 2015: Our Submission and the Ministers’ Response



151008 Letter To Minister Toole Re Background Briefing Program

151217 Response From Minister Toole Re Background Briefing Program

This is the pathetic response received to our submission to the Minister for Local Government  10 weeks after it was acknowledged as received by the Department, bearing in mind that this program and the allegations raised in was aired on 04 October 2015. The Minister suggests that we complain to the Council General Manager or ICAC. Been there, done that, and got absolutely nowhere. 

This matter has progressed even further now with the Environmental Protection Authority becoming involved and allegations of Acid sulfate contamination by local residents seem to be vindicated: 

“The state’s environmental watchdog has expanded an “ongoing criminal investigation” of alleged dumping of building waste at Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family business to include the dumping of contaminated building waste at a council-owned Salt Ash equestrian park.”

Newcastle Herald 17 December 2015Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie faces more questions about soil dumped at a Salt Ash park

TRRA Asks: How much more of this sort of behavior will be tolerated by this Government and its Minister before some action will be taken?  It is all over the press, on the National Broadcaster, raised in Parliament by the Local Member Kate Washington, the subject of numerous Codes of Conduct, letters and submissions from Community Groups, pleas to ICAC, all to no avail. It seems that the only recourse that the long suffering constituents of this LGA will have is at the ballot box in the Council elections next year. The message sent then may focus the Ministers mind on his inaction, and the fact that he might be next! 


More On This Story:

The Sand Mining Mayor Who Loves A Deal 

Alexander Park Dressage, Salt Ash Pony Club or Bruce’s BMX?

ICAC Still Under Threat









 Even More ICAC Stories: HERE

Later Story 31 Aug 2016: ICAC Report – Operation Spicer

Check  Newspaper links below – Updated Regularly……..!

“Could a pair of fake breasts have triggered a saga that changes forever the powers of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption?”

Opinion: (Updated to 20 February 2016)

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald today, by-lined by two respected journalists, who we came to know well for their coverage of the ICAC hearings, is of great concern to those of us who are still waiting for some action to be taken by the prosecutors on the alleged corruption revealed in the hearings  in the Commission early in 2014.

The irony of the situation is that the strident critics of the Commission and its methods can’t seem to see that the style of the investigation and the following interrogation is the very reason for it’s success. Under  traditional investigation methods the police have been unable or unwilling to bring this stuff to light or prosecution, ever.

The methods used were very effective in rooting out corruption and anyone that is called to a public hearing after being investigated and interviewed, can rest assured that they are there to either be exposed themselves or to nail somebody else.The Commission already has the evidence, or you would not have been called.  When you are being grilled by Geoffrey Watson SC there is nowhere to hide behind some fancy expensive lawyer, you have to answer the questions personally, if you are caught lying you can get 5 years for contempt. (This still did not deter some!) Despite being extensively coached before the hearings, most did a fine job of incriminating themselves or suffered massive self inflicted amnesia, and are now bleating that it was all so unfair.

A lot of top silks are not happy about not being able to protect their high profile, high paying clients and not getting away with much in the rulings from a very firm commissioner. This has split the legal fraternity down the middle.

So now the whole future of the ICAC itself has become bogged down in politics and the farcical situation of the lawyers all taking sides and scrapping all the way to the High Court among themselves. Meanwhile the likes of Eddie O’bead and Co. are laughing at the mess the system has got itself into and still living high on the hog. O’bead has boasted publicly that because of the way the system works he is confident that he will never be convicted of anything. Unfortunately when you read this article and the puerile legal shenanigans that are being played out, he may well be proven correct.

Meanwhile in the real world we have already had a State election and now have a Federal election and a Council election coming up next year and none of this looks like being resolved before that or maybe ever. Disgraceful! The law really is an ass……

Dick Appleby, TRRA Inc. Media Officer

Sydney Morning Herald 11 December 2015: Car crash and fake boobs make Margaret Cunneen’s battle with ICAC great fodder for Sydney shock jocks

More Legal Farce: 
Do these people have any idea of how silly this all sounds to rational ,thinking people that are not in the legal fraternity?  Are these legal eagles are in a self constructed bubble that has no relationship with reality in the real world? 

Levine - Latham


Inspector Levine – Commissioner Latham

More from ICAC, as it happens:

Sydney Morning Herald 20 March 2017: Obeid family hit with multimillion-dollar bill over ‘irresponsible’ ICAC lawsuit

Sydney Morning Herald 03 Aug 2016: Inspector David Levine’s call for ICAC exoneration protocol ‘misunderstands justice system’

ABC News 28 June 2016: Eddie Obeid found guilty of misconduct in public office while member of NSW Upper House

Sydney Morning Herald 23 June 2016: Opposition Leader Luke Foley’s budget reply speech: pledge to restore ICAC funding

ABC News 06 June 2016: Vote Compass: Australians want a federal corruption watchdog, even though major parties don’t

Sydney Morning Herald 04 June 2016: Baird budget cuts spark ICAC ‘funding crisis’

Sydney Morning Herald 15 May 2016 -Editorial:  ICAC must be allowed to continue its good work in public

Sydney Morning Herald 15 May 2016: The ICAC is there to serve the public, not protect reputations

Sydney Morning Herald 12 May 2016: ICAC inspector David Levine pushes for end to public hearings

Financial review 05 Feb 2016: Behind the plot to kill ICAC (Must Read)

Sydney Morning Herald 24 March 2016: Liberal donations scandal highlights ICAC’s important work

Sydney Morning Herald 18 March 2016: ICAC inspector David Levine has clear bias, says Commissioner Megan Latham

Sydney Morning Herald 14 March 2016: Inspector says ICAC risks perception it is ‘craving to sacrifice reputations’

Sydney Morning Herald 14 March 2016: Margaret Cunneen attacks ICAC and its ‘media punishers’

Sydney Morning Herald 06 March 2016: ICAC not a rogue agency

Sydney Morning Herald 01 March 2016: ‘Problem’ emerges in plan to enlist Margaret Cunneen in Eddie Obeid’s ICAC battle

Sydney Morning Herald 18 Feb 2016 – Editorial: Cunneen vs the ICAC: play the tape

Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 2016: ‘Do you know what you are doing?’ Hazzard fails to rule out call to ICAC barrister

ABC News 17 Feb 2016: Calls for Brad Hazzard to stand aside amid claims he may have meddled in the ICAC’s inquiry into Margaret Cunneen

Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 2016: Margaret Cunneen a ‘special guest’ at Fred Nile political fundraiser

ABC News 15 Feb 2016: Brad Hazzard faces questioning over his involvement in ICAC’s Margaret Cunneen probe

Sydney Morning Herald 15 Feb 2016: Cunneen laywers want inquiry MPs to affirm they did not leak phone tap transcript

Sydney Morning Herald 15 Feb 2016: Inquiry to decide on release of secret Cunneen tapes

Sydney Morning Herald 13 Feb 2016 – Opinion: Why NSW Parliament must publish the Margaret Cunneen tapes

Sydney Morning Herald 13 Feb 2016: Shadow of ICAC hangs over Macquarie Street – again – as Parliament returns

Sydney Morning Herald 12 Feb 2016: The ICAC tapes: Margaret Cunneen said she had sent a message to Sophia Tilley about chest pains  (Go to Bottom of page…….!)

Sydney Morning Herald 27 Jan 2016: Parliamentary committee chair Damien Tudehope quizzes ICAC chief Megan Latham before inquiry

Sydney Morning Herald 21 Jan 2016: NSW ICAC clears Arthur Sinodinos over corruption claims

Sydney Morning Herald 08 Jan 2016: ICAC Powers Clarified, Baird must now establish a parliamentary investigator

Sydney Morning Herald 20 December 2015ICAC ‘cannot’ find Mike Gallacher and other Liberal MPs corrupt in donations probe

Sydney Morning Herald Dec 09 2015: The ICAC must be allowed to get back to business

Sydney Morning Herald 13 November 2015: The one issue on which Mike Baird refuses to back ICAC

Sydney Morning Herald 4 April 2015: Stakes high for Mike Baird and Megan Latham over ICAC’s future

ABC News 30 October 2014: ICAC to investigate deputy senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen for allegedly coaching witness


For more on the ICAC Investigations, Type ‘ICAC’ into the search engine at the top of the right side bar…… We will try to keep this page updated with further developments……………….


160212 Cunneen