TRRA President Geoff Washington and Vice President Dick Appleby attended the Extraordinary Port Stephens Council Meeting on Tuesday along with a full gallery of curious ratepayers. The original motion before Council was for an allocation of 150K but this was increased to 200K on a recommendation from the Mayor Bruce Mackenzie.
EXTRAORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING – 19 JANUARY 2016
MOTION 004. Councillor Chris Doohan Councillor Steve Tucker
It was resolved that Council:
1) Allocate up to $200,000 in the 2015-2016 budget for costs associated with the merger proposal between Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council, including the conduct of a public information campaign.
2) Engage Morrison Low to assist with the preparation of Council’s submission related to the merger proposal between Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council.
Apologies were received from Councillors Morello and Dingle who were not present. With the exception of Clr. Dover, who did not speak at all, everyone supported the motion. Most spoke in Committee of the whole, and again in formal Council strongly against the merger proposal and were extremely critical of the Governments role and it’s abandonment of what they thought was the Fit for the Future” process, referring to it as “a grubby Pollies decision and a betrayal of the people of Port Stephens,” and other unkind remarks.
The Councillors present seemed to be in a state of shock that a Liberal Government could even contemplate such a proposal for their Council. Clr. Doohan was waving around a set of Boxing Gloves and declared that even though overtures had been made by Newcastle to collaborate on the way forward, he saw PSC as “being on a war footing with Newcastle Council and the NSW Government.”
There was a fair bit of rhetoric about the current performance of Newcastle City Council who were now seen as being dominated by the Greens and Labor since Lord Mayor McCloy was removed, and that fact that it had ’Party endorsed’ Councillors as opposed to Councillors in PSC who were members of political parties but had stood as ‘Independents’.
In our opinion this was a fine line, and from the tone of the debate it was clear that some of them had not read the whole 20 page document and even though they had just spent 2 hours with the ’Delegate’ appointed by the Government to brief them on the proposal, the finer points of it seemed to have escaped most of them, and a few wildly exaggerated rate rise claims and a bit of old fashioned political bashing was the best that they could come up with.
The old refrain about being the best financially run Council in the State and being one of the few that was Fit for the Future’ was repeated endlessly, and TRRA will have a lot more to say about that dubious, easily manipulated process soon.
A fair bit of passion was displayed around the Council table, but there seemed to be little enthusiasm in the gallery once it sunk in that 200k of their precious funds was about to disappear into a big scare campaign to maintain the status quo of ‘Business as usual with Bruce’ at Port Stephens for the foreseeable future. No detail was given as to how this money was to be expended other than what was in the motion. We are not even sure if it is legal……
A pointed reference was made by the Mayor in his final wind up “That those in the gallery who have had the knife into him and his voting block, and want to do his Council harm,” should reconsider their position and support the campaign to ‘Save The PS Council’. He made reference to Churchill in saying that they ‘Would never give in” and invoked the “truce” in WW1 where the warring parties ceased hostilities and removed the bodies from no-man’s land for burial. TRRA assured him when we ran into him on the way out that “A truce with Bruce” was unlikely if it meant another 4 years with him as Mayor.
PSC Press Release 19 Jan 2016: Unanimous support to fight proposed amalgamation at extraordinary meeting
The Press release above was put out on Tuesday, and a sidebar on their Informe Newsletter later announced: Port Stephens Council hits the airwaves
PSConverse – Your Port Stephens on the radio will launch on 100.9 Port Stephens FM on Thursday 21 January 2016 at 5.30 pm for a lively half-hour program on the news, issues and events that affect your community.
Tune in this week to hear Mayor Bruce Mackenzie talk about the proposed merger with Newcastle City Council as well as Australia Day Ambassador, Associate professor Kelvin Kong.
Click here for the full Audio of interview: PS Converse 21 January 2016
We are now beginning to get the picture of the sort of scare campaign that you will be assaulted with in the coming weeks:
- $80 K to be spent on Morrison Low submission to Govt, the rest on:
- Newsletter to every ratepayer in PS this week
- Call for thousands to turn up at public meeting on 14 Feb at Footy grounds
- Buses to Macquarie St with hundreds on them
- Enlist support from Shock Jock Alan Jones and ABC 7.30 Report
- Challenge Minister to live debate on TV and Radio
- And much more
We know that some of this populist stuff will resonate with some of the less informed ratepayers of Port Stephens but all we can say is “Be careful what you wish for” This is clearly a campaign to keep the current Mayor and Council in their jobs, not reform it, and you are paying for it.
Read our Press Release: HERE