TRRA Inc. Issues Raised In Parliament

Newcastle Herald 22 August 2014: Labor’s Call For Answers

19 August 2014: TRRA inc. concerns about the Conduct of the 2012 Port Stephens Council Elections and the Councils reluctance to release comprehensive information relating to DA applications electronically on their website were raised in Budget Estimates Committee in the NSW Parliament today.

The Honorable Sophie Costis MLC (Labor) raised the issues with the Minister For Local Government Hon. Paul Toole after representations from TRRA Executive, facilitated by Kate Washington, endorsed (Labor) Candidate for Port Stephens.

NSW Parlliament



Sophie Costis had actually been reading the TRRA General Meeting Minutes on our website after I spoke to her at the ‘Save The Yaccaba Centre’ Meeting. This is the email I received 8 Aug 2014.


Hi Dick, Sophie Cotsis, Shadow for LG,  is reading TRRA’s meeting minutes and would like a copy of the letter you sent to the Minister for LG regarding the PS local Council election irregularities.  The letter is apparently referenced in your meeting minutes of 10/3/14.  She’s also interested in seeing any response you had from the Minister. If possible, could you please send these to me ASAP, as Sophie is working on this issue now. Thanks, Kate.

Copies of the submission that we made to the Electoral Funding Authority, the disappointing string of emails following that up, the Herald opinion piece that we submitted and links to the Newcastle Herald coverage from this website were dispatched to the Department of Premier & Cabinet, the Minister and the Member with a covering letter: HERE  

It was a pretty willing exchange in the Committee, The Minister suggested that if we thought that there was any impropriety in the election we should refer it to ICAC!  (There’s a thought!) And unfortunately the Minister confused the issue of simple information that the Council won’t supply to us about development applications (that we are entitled to,) with matters discussed in confidential Committee (that we are not). However the issues are now recorded in Hansard transcripts and will be checked out by the relevant public servants who will report to the Minister.  Sophie Costis has indicated that when the opportunity presents itself she will be asking the Minister what action has been taken in the near future. 

We would like to formally thank the Hon Member for her interest in our issues, recognition of these matters by Government is long overdue.

We have a file full of one page (blow off) responses to lengthy submissions to the Local Government Ministers that are virtually form letters telling us that if we are not happy with the performance of our Council or Councillors to just throw them out at the next election.  Four years is a long time and that can be a little late! After the shenanigans at the last Council election, the State Election and the resignation of the lord Mayor of Newcastle there is not a lot of confidence that elections will solve the problem either. Brown paper bag democracy reigns at the moment……….!

I have extracted the relevant exchange from Hansard  HERE.

Speakers in the transcript:

Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones, BN, MLC  (Liberal) Chair

Hon. Paul Toole (Liberal) Member for Bathurst, Minister For Local Government.

Hon. Sophie Costis MLC ( Labor) Shadow Minister, Local Government, Housing, Status of Women.

Hon David Shoebridge MLC (Greens)

The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane, MLC (Labor)

The Hon Scott Macdonald MLC (Liberal)

The Hon Niall Blair, MLC (National)

Ross Woodward Deputy Director-General, Department of Local Government (Last day At Work)

ICAC, MaKenzie & McCloy – Should Property Developers Be Mayors too?


Reaction – Examiner 20 August 2014: Call For ICAC Probe Into PSC & Mayor Bruce MacKenzie

Update 20 August: Correction to Mayors assertion in the Examiner:

 “ICAC have more to do than come to Port Stephens,” he said. “The TRRA are only whingeing because the wrong people got elected. They have run candidates in the last three elections and haven’t succeeded.”

TRRA Inc. made public statements at the four Election Forums that we held in the lead up to the 2012 Council Elections (that all Candidates were invited to attend), that we had a motion on our books from a General meeting, that TRRA Inc. as an organization would not be supporting any particular Groups or Candidates in the election.

This was very important because we wanted to provide a neutral public forum for all candidates, incumbent and potential, to introduce themselves and allow public scrutiny of their past and potential future performance. A couple of the Mayors ‘Team to Achieve’ attended the first forum at Soldiers Point attended by 200 ratepayers. The Mayor never attended any.  If he had fronted up to his constituents he would have known what our policy was. TRRA Inc. has never run candidates in any elections, ever.  More HERE and HERE

Posted 18 August 2014

Disgraced former Lord Mayor Of Newcastle, Jeff McCloy and current (?) Mayor Of Port Stephens Bruce Mackenzie having a cozy chat at Stella Cafe, Newcastle West.  No Bentleys or Brown paper bags are visible in these photos but we would like to have been a fly on the wall…….. What was the topic of discussion? Tell us your best guess in ‘Comments’ at the Bottom of the page. Be kind now!



(These pictures are from Mackenzie’s Face Book, and were probably taken during the Local Government Elections in 2012)

Newcastle Herald 13 Aug: “Man Up And Don’t Back Down”: Bruce Mackenzie Urges Jeff McCloy to Stand firm At ICAC

When this article appeared in the Herald the other day It seemed like our illustrious Mayor was having a bit of memory lapse.

‘I’ve been investigated by ICAC. Some bloke turned up and flashed his silver badge, then they searched everything I own and it made headlines for weeks. And then when they found nothing, all it got was 100 words on page 59 of the Newcastle Herald.”

Seeing that you bought this up Mr Mayor, TRRA Inc. thought that we should do a ‘fact check’ and see if this really was just a “pimple on a pumpkin.” We think you should “man up” and tell the truth Bruce!

The Pecuniary Interest & Disciplinary Tribunal was established by The Local Government Act 1993.  The Tribunal’s principal function is to determine allegations of contraventions of the act,which requires that the pecuniary interests of Councillors, Council delegates, senior staff etc. be placed on public record. Councillors and designated persons are required to submit written returns for that purpose every financial year, and they have until September to lodge them.

Councillors, staff and other designated persons are required to make a disclosure and refrain from taking part in decisions on Councillor matters in which they have a pecuniary interest. If a contravention is proved to the Tribunal, the Tribunal may, in the case of Councillors, Council committee members and Council advisers; counsel, reprimand, suspend or disqualify from civic office and, in the case of Council employees, recommend disciplinary action or dismissal.

The legislation requires complaints of contraventions to be dealt with by the Director-General of the Department. The Director-General has powers to investigate a complaint and the Tribunal’s functions are initiated by a Report presented to the Tribunal when the investigation is completed. After considering the Report, the Tribunal may decide to conduct a hearing into the complaint, or it may decide, for reasons to be stated in writing, not to conduct a hearing.

March 1995: Councillor  Mackenzie had the dubious honor of being the first Councillor to be investigated and served with a notice to attend a hearing under the Act. He  ignored notices sent by registered mail, but was eventually served in person and attended a three day hearing in Raymond Terrace on 27,28,29 March 1995.  He refused legal representation and represented himself at the hearing.

A complainant had Alleged a contravention of Division 9A (Section 46B) Local Government Act, 1919 – failure to lodge declaration of interests returns for 1991 and 1992. The Director-General investigated the complaint by interviewing Councillor Mackenzie and relevant staff members. The interviews were taped.  Councillor Mackenzie declared that he had lodged the returns but when it was established that there were no returns in the register he set about accusing staff members of loosing the paperwork and even accused the General Manager, (Shire Clerk then) with whom he said he had major disagreements, of deliberately destroying and disposing of the documents to get him into trouble.

Councillor Mackenzie made some very silly statements about his attitude to the Act, compulsory paperwork in general and the irritation he expressed that his financial affairs and property transactions had been scrutinized, investigated and put on public view over some years which provided both a motive and a personal inclination against lodging these returns.  He must have forgotten what he said in the interviews on tape because he put totally inconsistent arguments at the hearing, resulting in a scathing summation by the Tribunal, remarking that he did not regard him as a reliable witness. He had no problem with the reliability of the staff witnesses, except that of the Councillors secretary who had given a strident defense of her boss (after some prior collusion) on tape but then fell apart under oath in the witness box.The ultimate cost was her job and her reputation.

The Tribunal Ordered that Councilor Mackenzie be suspended from civic office for two months to July 22 1995 The Councillor appealed the order because it cut across the election process and if allowed to stand would have resulted in a suspension of over 4 Years to the next election Cycle. The suspension was reduced by 9 days to prevent this happening. Reasons given for the suspension were:

  • Councillor Mackenzie’s (lack of) knowledge and understanding at, and following the time of his election to Council of his legal obligations as a Councillor with respect to pecuniary interest returns.
  • His lack of concern for the obligation to lodge returns within the prescribed times.
  • His disregard for criticism of or the threat or risk of repercussions for his conduct in the performance of his duties.
  • His expressions at the hearing of apology and contrition for past failures to comply with the requirements of the legislation.
  • His expressions at the hearing of changes in his attitude to his obligations and his statements of intention to comply in the future.

November 1996:The Councillor then chalked up another first, He was hauled before the tribunal a second time 15 months later on 26 November 1996 on a recommendation from the ICAC .

Councillor Bruce Mackenzie, being a Councillor who had a pecuniary interest in matters with which the Council was concerned and being present at meetings of the Council at which the matters were being considered:

  • · failed to disclose the pecuniary interest to the meetings;
  • · took part in the consideration and discussion of the matters; and
  • · voted on questions relating to the matters

contrary to the provisions of section 451 of the Act.

This occurred over a number of different Council meetings between September 1993 and October 1994 at which he moved motions, rescission motions and amendments about his own development. The Councillor was represented by a lawyer this time and pleaded guilty to all charges. The Tribunal still took a dim view of this and suspended him from holding public office for a further two months from 26 November 1996 to 26 January 1997.

TRRA Inc. thinks that having this sort of stuff on your record is a bit more than a ‘pimple on a pumpkin.’ We wonder if he has ever really learned any lessons. His attitude to the law and accountability to constituents is is about the same as his mate McCloy’s. (He was prepared to go to the High Court rather than resign.) He clearly broke the current law, TRRA just does not think that developers and Public Office are a good mix, and that is being borne out in the evidence emerging every day from ICAC.  Lets hope that this is followed through with prosecutions, damaged reputations are not enough.  We also hope the electorate has learned their lessons about this unholy conflict of interest. All that crying about stagnation in Newcastle, well we put the pro development “adults” in charge and look what happened!

For those Tragics that want to salivate over the detail, the transcripts of the Hearings are available below by clicking on the links.  The first one went to 99 pages, with the Tribunal trying to grapple with an unrepresented renegade who tried to treat the hearing with contempt for a start, then turned the blame onto everybody else when he realized how much trouble he was really in. The second affair was a bit more civilized with legal representation and a guilty plea.  The first can be very entertaining in a Machiavellian way with plenty of ‘Bruceisims’ quoted, but it certainly shows the sort of stuff that is still going on in Local Government politics today. Enjoy, or be horrified the read.

LG Pecuniary Interest Tribunal – MacKenzie 1995

LG Pecuniary Interest Tribunal – MacKenzie – 1996

We were a bit reluctant to put this next link in because we think Bruce gets off on this stuff, and it appeals to the “Can Do” brigade that want some sort of a”Lovable Larrikin” running things, even if it is only for himself. But this does fill in some of the gaps and reveal a bit more about the controversial Mr Mackenzie. Reflect on it and let us know what you think in the comment section below. Question: Should Property Developers Hold Public Office?

Newcastle Herald December 14 2012: Ballsy Bruce; The Controversial Mayor Of Port Stephens

ICAC – Operation Spicer – Who is in the Cac At ICAC?

Grim-reaper-356 x 200

‘The Grim Reaper’ 

NSW disease has now mutated from the Labour Party and it appears that a particularly virulent strain has taken hold in the Liberal Party with Premiers, Ministers and MP’s going down like nine pins with Council Assisting Geoffrey Watson SC playing the part of ‘the Grim Reaper’……….

The disease has now spread to the Hunter and even Port Stephens.  Names like Darren Williams and Nathan Tinkler, Companies like Buildev Pty. Ltd. These people have had, and still have, extensive business relationships with Port Stephens Council and some of them are known to be associates of some of our Councillors, they have declared this in the minutes of many Council Meetings.

Allegations of interference in the electoral process by developers and vested interests making prohibited donations seem to be popping up everywhere and lookout if you get in the way as Labour member for Newcastle (Jodie McKay) found out, even your own people will turn you into road-kill. This disease is bi-partisan.

TRRA Inc. wonders what would happen if some of this sort of forensic scrutiny was applied to the recent revelations in the Newcastle Herald about the last Council election and some of the dubious decisions that have been pushed through by the Mayor’s voting bloc since.  The Newcastle Herald obviously called for it in this 28 February EditorialThere is probably a case for some external authority to examine the matter in detail, to clarify whether the contributions were donations or something else instead.” 

TRRA inc. would like some light shone in some of the dark corners around Medowie Woolworths, The Wallalong Gateway Proposal, some dubious development decisions and some recent tendering practices.  The ‘Grim Reaper’ might find some rich pickings indeed…………….! Let’s hope the Commission finishes the job it has started and cleans up ALL the mess.

ICAC, MacKenzie and MclCloy – Should Mayors be Developers Too?

Newspaper Archives ICAC:

Newcastle Herald 04 May 2014: ICAC urged to look into Bruce MacKenzie’s election campaigns.

 Newcastle Herald 05 May 2014: ICAC: aims claims at tinkler and company.

Newcastle Herald 06 May 2014: Nathan Tinkler to face ICAC before new investigations.

Port Stephens Examiner 06 May 2014: Port Stephens Mayor, Council under scrutiny.

Newcastle Herald 07 May 2014: ICAC: Nathan Tinkler texts put no price limit on bid to remove Jodi McKay.

Newcastle Herald 16 May 2014: ICAC: Newcastle Alliance in developer claims.

Newcastle Herald 16 May 2014: Nathan Tinkler’s denials, accusations, revelations at inquiry.

Newcastle Herald 16 May 2014Opinion: Kate McLemont – Money, Immorality and our democracy at ICAC.

Newcastle Herald 16 May 2014: Opinion Greg Ray- A Case Of Us And Them.

Examiner 13 Aug: ICAC Probe Names Two Port Pollies

Newcastle Herald PSC Election Investigation

 What’s Going On At Wallalong

Daracon Group Funded Owen 2011 Tilt

Election Funding Authority To Examine Donations To Tim Owen

ICAC: Crossbench gets cosier as ninth MP implicated

ICAC fallout aired behind closed doors for council

ICAC: Baird – Libs ‘forfeited right’ to represent Hunter: video, photos

ICAC: Tripodi ‘leaked’ advice on loader

ICAC: Murphy in dark on carpet message meaning

ICAC: Tony Abbott – ALP to blame for Liberal’s shame 

ICAC: McCloy ally Brad Luke warms the city chair, poll 

ICAC: Elite club gave ‘anti-Labor’ funding 

ICAC: What you said on Jeff McCloy’s resignation 

ICAC: NSW Labor leader’s chief of staff stands down

ICAC: Tony Abbott blames Labor over law that led to Liberals’ ICAC woes

ICAC: Tinkler company ‘funded FedUp! through Newcastle Alliance’, photos

ICAC: Follow it live, August 18

ICAC: Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy quits 

IAN KIRKWOOD: City paying price but this isn’t corruption 

ICAC: Premier under attack over byelections

ICAC: Mike Baird’s apology – what you said 

ICAC: Voters get three polls  in just months  

ICAC: OPINION – Voters are left shaking heads  at  government’s tactics

 ICAC: Conservatives disappointed at lack of Liberal candidates: poll  

ICAC: OPINION – Let’s get real about Jeff McCloy’s intentions,  legacy

ICAC: Robyn Parker all clear but seat not safe

ICAC: Premier apologises to Hunter for scandal: poll  

ICAC: Minister tells lawyers  to get rid of Jeff McCloy 

ICAC: Docket for how-to-vote McCloy cards produced at inquiry 

ICAC: Robyn Parker emerges unscathed from inquiry 

ICAC: Ownership of ‘boat’ makes waves at hearing

ICAC: Hunter MP’s offices stripped bare 

EDITORIAL: Dilemma for the lord mayor

ICAC: Local government minister urges Jeff McCloy to “consider his position”

ICAC: Robyn Parker appears over “big man” speculation

ICAC leaves Hunter MPs stripped bare

Joe Hockey fundraiser called before ICAC

ICAC: Strike – 10th Liberal MP skittled at inquiry

GREG RAY: Another one falls at ICAC 

ICAC: Hospital puts Rex Newell painting for auction on eBay 

ICAC: Hilton Gruegon claims Andrew Cornwell’s art evidence not true

ICAC: Brother of ICAC counsel says ban is ‘a bad law’ 

ICAC: Garry Edwards knows position is all about trust

ICAC: Two sides to stories of donations  

ICAC: No brown paper bags, but Mother Teresa, Hugh Grant and a posse of burghers were there

ICAC: But I’m not a developer, says Jeff McCloy  

ICAC: Premier Mike Baird relents with guarantee of probity

ICAC: Follow it live, August 14

ICAC: Jeff McCloy admits giving cash to Swansea MP Garry Edwards

MP Garry Edwards stands aside after Jeff McCloy told ICAC of donation

ICAC: Hilton Grugeon contradicts Andrew Cornwell evidence on painting

“Man up and don’t back down”: Bruce MacKenzie urges Jeff McCloy to stand firm at ICAC

ICAC: Byelections in Newcastle, Charlestown to cost $1 million, poll

ICAC: Mike Gallacher arranged $120,000 from “big man” for Tim Owen

ICAC: Craig Baumann, Mike Gallacher implicated in Nathan Tinkler donation scheme

ICAC: MP resignations force byelections

Greens call again for powwow on Jeff McCloy over ICAC

ICAC: Outrage over Newcastle’s black eye

ICAC: Gladys Berejiklian, Brad Hazzard shrug off Newcastle rail line questions

GREG RAY: Ditty of pity for our city

EDITORIAL: Newcastle hit by donations scandal

ICAC: We track Tim Owen’s trail of lies

ICAC OPINION: Premier fails first big leadership test

ICAC: Tim Owen may face criminal charges after admitting he lied

Cash still king as true horror dawns on Tim Owen

ICAC: MP resignations force byelections

ICAC: Tim Owen’s wife – “I’m disgusted with my husband”

ICAC: Jeff McCloy awaits his turn at inquiry 

ICAC: Tim Owen, rise and fall of an officer politician 

ICAC: Lies, bribes, resignations, byelections – dark days for city 

ICAC: OPINION – The price of democracy and political donations 

ICAC: Questions over payment of Owen staffer

ICAC: Jodi McKay silent on running again 

TOPICS: ICAC satire Newcastle’s growth industry 

ICAC: Cornwell raised residents’ concerns over Whitebridge development 

GREG RAY: No country for honest men

OPINION: Voters must be left reeling

ICAC: Councillors seek urgent meeting with lord mayor Jeff McCloy, poll

ICAC: Tim Owen, Andrew Cornwell resign from parliament: photos, poll

 EDITORIAL: The ICAC juggernaut continues

ICAC: Bob Baldwin may be asked about spruiking coal-loader

ICAC:  Artist Rex Newell likely to be called to testify

ICAC: Tim Owen gave back McCloy’s bag of cash – after a few days 

ICAC: Tim Owen says Jeff McCloy gave him envelope of cash

ICAC: Former Liberal MP Andrew Cornwell to face motion to expel him from NSW Parliament

ICAC: Follow it live, August 11 

ICAC: Joe Tripodi under fire over  smear campaign role

ICAC: Baldwin took up coal-loader’s cause  

ICAC: Greens call for delay to Whitebridge

ICAC: Buildev bankrolled mud-throwing campaign 

EDITORIAL: Newcastle deserves better than this political trainwreck

ICAC: Andrew Cornwell to quit politics after admission on bribes: poll

ICAC: Painting price a surprise to artist Rex Newell 

OPINION: City renewal must go on regardless of ICAC

GREG RAY: Ghosts of Joe Tripodi at ICAC 

ICAC: Andrew Cornwell officially resigns from Liberal Party, poll

ICAC: Labor councillors call for McCloy to stand down

ICAC: Andrew Cornwell’s $10,000 mistake

ICAC: Re-gifting artwork becomes a political minefield; poll

ICAC: DJ believed invoices were above board

ICAC: MP Garry Edwards warned to be nice to Buildev 

ICAC: Herald journalist Matthew Kelly to give evidence

GREG RAY: MP refused to play ball

EDITORIAL: Coalition’s Newcastle nightmare

OPINION: Why is Andrew Cornwell still in parliament if he admitted taking a bribe

Andrew Cornwell pocketed $10k from developer to pay tax bill

ICAC: Follow the bag of money as we tweet the evidence live

ICAC: The Bentley and the bag of money, poll

ICAC: Behind the cast taking centre stage at the inquiry

ICAC: ‘I have done nothing wrong’ – Jeff McCloy

ICAC: Tripodi offered job by Tinkler company

ICAC hears Liberal party boss Brian Loughnane knew developer donations went through federal channels

Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell stand down from Liberal Party after ICAC hearing

ICAC: Jeff McCloy, Hilton Grugeon added to list of alleged prohibited donors

Newcastle Herald PSC Election Investigation

Newcastle Herald February 28 2014: EDITORIAL: Questions From An Election   (More Links below.)

Bruce Almighty 300 x 167The Newcastle Herald has had investigative reporters looking into the conduct of the last Port Stephens Election since the financial returns were made available from the N.S.W Electoral Funding Authority late November last year. Their revelations only confirm what TRRA suspected just prior to the election and wrote about subsequently on this site. HERE

These people deliberately avoided any fair scrutiny by their constituents, boycotting all the TRRA forums set up for that purpose.  If they had taken the opportunity provided to tell the people what they were doing in a transparent manner, they may have avoided the opprobrium that they are now going to face in the electorate.

The TRRA Executive were interviewed, provided material from our records to the reporters to assist their investigation and have made an extensive submission to the Electoral Authority on this issue.

We are very concerned at the ‘develop at any cost’ attitude of this Council and their record is there for all to see. Many of their development decisions have been  made against the recommendations of staff and statutory authorities. A lot of them were regurgitated from the previous Council’s rejections and given the go ahead. This was also obviously part of the Grand Strategy.These bad decisions will no doubt have legal ramifications and will probably come back to haunt ratepayers long into the future.

TRRA is not suggesting that this group has done anything illegal with their plan per se, although The EFA is investigating the possibility that the donations made to other candidates by the Mayor and others may be in breech of the Electoral Funding Act, because if the donors are connected in any way with the liquor industry or are designated as developers, they may be classified by the act as ‘Prohibited Donors’ under recent legislation bought in by the current government.

It is one thing to ‘game’ the rules for your own advantage, but it is another to game the ratepayers. The scale and expense incurred in this exercise and the politics behind it were not apparent to the average voter and the gloating afterward has made a lot of people feel that they have been duped.

Our biggest concern is, that now that the precedent has been set, it will become apparent to wealthy individuals that elections can be bought or manipulated by organised groups gaming the system and harvesting preferences from unwitting voters who are obliged to vote on a large complex ballot paper, but just want to get it over with by ticking a box.above the line.

There needs to be a change of rules or a massive public education campaign to prevent  further distortions like this occurring in the future.  The perpetrators of this underhand scheme have now been publicly exposed, and although they think they are very clever they should be seen for what they really are by the ratepayers of Port Stephens.

A word of warning to those who hold these people up as ‘go getters’ that ‘cut through’ and ‘get things done’.  Take a good look at ‘what’ is being done, and ‘who for’ and what corners are being cut to get it done.  That is what TRRA do best and we put it on this site for you to decide.

140301 Lewis Cartoon


 Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce Mackenzie rejects criticism of his “like-minded” Council. N H March 1st, 2014.


Here are the electronic links to all the stories in the Herald in the ‘Bruce Almighty’ series, from Friday 28 Feb 2014.  Some of the articles have interactive pictures at the top, and comments at the bottom, they are worth a click, we will continue to update  this aggregation as the story unfolds………. Great investigative reporting Donna, Michael & Greg!

Bruce MacKenzie’s 31 running mates

The secrets to Bruce MacKenzie’s political staying power 

OPINION:  Vote catching can be tough to grasp

Macca ‘Bloc’ Drives Key Port Decisions

Mayor MacKenzie proud of council’s financial health 

Residents raise heat on mayor MacKenzie

OPINION: Ambiguous alliance undermines Port council

LETTER: I didn’t vote for Macka, or did I?

LETTER: The power of a mayor’s vote

OPINION: Decision to shelve section 94 fees ‘curious’

LETTER: Rhetoric masks backlog

Voters will remember, mayor MacKenzie warned

LETTER: Election strategy unconscionable

Mandate lost in system rort

Defiant mayor has no election regret, poll

Option three: Candidates to run for Port Stephens Council.


PORT Stephens Council Elections 2012 – New Revelations!

Revelations in the Newcastle Herald November 27 and 28 2013 have prompted TRRA Inc. to delve into our archives and resurrect a controversial document written in the aftermath of the Port Stephens Council Election in September 2012.  This document was actually only a draft, and considered too strong to be published on this website by the majority of the TRRA Management Committee at the time.

However in the light of these articles in the paper, we feel that the analysis at the time has been vindicated and the warnings  that we published on the website, AFTER the Candidate forums, but the week  BEFORE the elections, were also very timely and accurate. We also think that what has been printed in the paper is only the tip of the iceberg….. We will be commenting further on the implications soon.

The document must be read in the context of when it was written in September 2012 and sections relating to the Election Funding Authority have since been highlighted. A link to Our wrap-up of what WE THOUGHT was going on the week BEFORE the election, and published on this site, is attached at the bottom of the article.

Macka2‘How Macka Stole Port Stephens’ is: HERE

The performance of this Council so far has exceeded our worst expectations as expressed in our last ‘Council Report Card Project’ and reinforced in last weeks shenanigan at Council HERE 


Aggregated Media Coverage As It Happened:

Newcastle Herald 26 November: Electoral Cash Trail Revealed: Poll 

Newcastle Herald 26 Nov: Editorial – Seeking Electoral Fairness

Newcastle Herald 26 Nov: McCloy’s Majority Flexes Its Muscles – Newcastle Too!

Newcastle Herald 27 Nov: Jet Lane Housing Gets Council Nod

Newcastle Herald 27 Nov: Member Of Mackenzie Team Reveals Strategy

Newcastle Herald 29 Nov: Vote Idea Just The TicketTucker Bells The Cat… !

Newcastle Herald 29 Nov: MacKenzie Unmoved By Air Marshal

Newcastle Herald 02 Dec: Councillors Deny Code Breach – The spin…..!

Newcastle Herald 02 Dec: Just  How Independent?Cllr Dingle

Opinion Newcastle Herald 29 NovLetter:  Deceptions Belie Wisdom Prayer

Opinion Newcastle Herald 29 NovLetter:  Blinkered View Of Our Councils

Opinion Newcastle Herald 4 Dec: –  Letter: Ward Foretold Of Dangerous Times

Examiner 04 Dec: Councillor Reveals Election Plot For Pro Development Council

Newcastle Herald 12 December: Firefighters Between A Rock And A Hot Place

Daily Telegraph 12 December 2013: Environmental Rules Slammed – Port Stephens Area Under Flames was About To Be Back Burned

Here are the electronic links to the stories in the Herald.Saturday 01. Monday 03 March;

Bruce MacKenzie’s 31 running mates

The secrets to Bruce MacKenzie’s political staying power 

OPINION:  Vote catching can be tough to grasp

Macca ‘Bloc’ Drives Key Port Decisions

Mayor MacKenzie proud of council’s financial health 


Port Stephens Unplugged, Our Webcam has gone!

Port Stephens Ratepayers have been unplugged by their Council! Look!

At the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 11 December Councillors voted 7 – 3 to immediately cease broadcasting Council Meetings via the Internet.  No notice was given, the item (an implementation review) which was supposed to be item 18 was moved forward on the agenda to number 1 and dealt with summarily, and anyone that thought they were going to watch the rest of the agenda at home was presented with a blank screen.

Despite pledges during their election campaigns (Oh how quickly they would like to forget ! – We haven’t!) Check out Question 5 in each of these interviews on NBN 3, August 30 just before the election. HERE

TRRA Inc.have made our feelings known in a letter to Councillors HERE and the events leading up to this decision and what happened in the meeting are covered in detail up to the point where the Mayor was heard to instruct the IT manager to “Get rid of it”

Press reaction so far is here: HERALD  –  EXAMINER EXAMINER

The next day, Wed 12 2012, we found that despite the fact that motions where there is opposition are only supposed to be acted upon after a Council Meeting has been formally closed, and after the required time has expired for a rescission motion to be lodged, this motion was acted on immediately.

There was nothing in the debate, or the motion about the web-cam, to cover the files that had already been archived from previous meetings or the one that was current.  The next morning the lot went. HERE

We do not know who took the decision to do this, it is not what the Councillors voted on, or debated, so we ask the age old question, why do these things continue to happen in this Council and what have they got to hide?

Do our Councillors think it is OK in formal Council Meetings to say whatever they like, slander whoever they like including each other (and probably us) tell lies etc. with complete impunity because it is not being recorded?  We think Port Stephens deserves better,  What do you think?

Comments Below.  We encourage you to email  or ring your Councillors on how you feel about this, just copy & paste. Their Contact Details are HERE  Do it Now!

New Council Meeting Schedule

At its first meeting on 26th September 2012  the new Council took a decision to change it’s meeting schedule.  Instead of having a Committee Meeting where matters can be raised and discussed informally, before going to a formal decision at an Ordinary Council meeting two weeks later, as was the practice in the last Council, this Council now discusses matters in Committee and then switches straight to an ordinary Council meeting the same night.

This does not allow Councillors to properly consider or research the issues before it, or consult with Council Officers for further information.  It also prevents proper scrutiny by the ratepayers and removes their democratic right to consult with their elected representatives before decisions directly affecting them are made.

TRRA has made a formal submission to Council recommending a return to the previous schedule, that can be read HERE 

First Meeting Of New Council

The first meeting of the new Council was held on Tuesday 25 September at 5.30pm.  The Web-cast is now available in the archive HERE. TRRA sent an email to the Councillors before the meeting HERE. Please read.

Council elected Sally Dover as Deputy Mayor for the next two years, unopposed.

The meeting was mainly dominated by procedural and administrative decisions on how often council would meet, and who would serve on the proliferation (about 80) of the Committees that service the LGA.  I think it will be dawning on the new Councillors by now just what they have let themselves in for.

Of the matters that we raised in our letter, the one about the Council’s investment in Grange (Lehman Bros) CDO’s was raised by Councillor Nell.  The General Manager  stated that, in the investments that Wigacarribee Council had made through Grange, (that were the subject of the recent successful Class Action) they had Ceded full control of the investments back to Grange.  He stated that PS Council had set theirs up differently and that they could not take part in the Class action for that reason.  We will be checking the details of this, to see if it is correct.

On the other matter that TRRA raised about the Rescission Motion that sought to overturn the decision of the last Council, to reject a DA for a building in Fingal Bay, in accordance with the recommendation of Council Staff and in line with State Authorities, mainly because it did not meet the fire regulations or the State Building Codes, showed us just how the new Council will operate.  Despite no notice of motion being on the table to indicate what they were going to do with the DA if they managed to rescinded the motion, the Mackenzie faction overturned it anyway.

Councillors Nell, Dingle and Kafer spoke passionately against the rescission, but Councillors Jordan, Tucker and the Mayor denigrated the State Authorities, and said that they did not know what they were talking about.  The Mayor in particular was scathing in his attack, how he participates directly in the debate and still chairs the meeting is a sight to behold. When it was Councillor Dingle’s turn to speak he sat him down and told him he would tell him when to speak, then waded in himself!!

Councillor Kafer asked the Services Manager “what has changed in the advice to Council about liability from when this matter was dealt with originally and now?”  The poor old Services Manager stood up and replied “Nothing”.

Councillors Nell, Kafer and Dingle voted against, Councillors Jordan, Tucker, Dover and the Mayor voted for and although they looked a little non plussed the two new Councillors present, Morello and Doohan (le Mottee is on holiday) supported the Mayor as well.

Obviously the Mayor wanted to test the power of the new ‘Team to Achieve,’ so if he was looking for something curly to try them out, this was it, first up. This matter is highly contentious and is exactly the sort of thing that the DLG Better Practice Review recommended Council should stop doing. Despite this being raised, they all passed the test with flying colours.  Councillor Jordan then moved a motion to put the whole mess back on the Council Staff, to negotiate on the owners behalf to cut a deal with the State Authorities so that he would not be up for so much expense to comply.  Good luck with that!

TRRA is extremely concerned that if this is to be the precedent for the way that this new Council is going to operate over the next four years, the legal bills and the liabilities will be a major feature of the Councils budget long after  they have served their terms.