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.
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)