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May 18, 2021

Reasons for sacking ‘may never be public’

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Ballina MP and minister for the north coast Don Page has told local media it may never be possible to reveal publicly the full reasons for the sacking of Tweed Shire general manager David Keenan last month, just ten months into his three year contract.

Rumours have circulated regarding the reasons for the termination, which was taken by Tweed Shire councillors at their March meeting with a 4–3 vote. Conservative, pro-development councillors Youngblutt, Polglase and Byrne opposed the move.

Following the sacking, members of the Tweed business and farming community organised a campaign to in turn sack the council, including a protest meeting at the Murwillumbah Showground last week.

The minister subsequently sent two investigators from the Division of Local Government to look into the reasons behind the sacking. They concluded their investigations last week and their report will be handed to the minister this week.

But Mr Page says the council were within their rights to sack the GM, although he questioned whether it was ethical to do so.

He told ABC local radio this morning, ‘the council legally have the capacity to dismiss the general manager… Whether that’s appropriate morally I think that’s a different issue and that’s why it was important to put in two experienced investigators… to enlighten me and the community as a whole.’

He added, however, that some aspects of the investigation may need to remain confidential.

‘It may well be that certain aspects of the report may not be appropriate to release because people named in them do not want that information out there.’

But he said his preference was the report should be made available publicly ‘unless there was some overwhelming reason not to’.

Meanwhile, Tweed mayor Barry Longland has said that allegations surrounding major developer Leda in relation to the struggle between the GM and the elected councillors were not central to the sacking.

Leda, the company behind the Kings Forest and Cobaki ‘mini cities’, released ‘secret’ dossiers’ during the term of the last council naming certain councillors as being a drag on its development plans and urged then GM Mike Rayner to investigate them.

Mr Rayner declined to do so but it has been suggested that Leda’s dossier was revived by Mr Keenan and that he was planning to secretly investigate certain councillors over the allegations.

‘Rumours that there was some kind of Leda allegation that I am keeping from the public are completely unfounded and misleading,’ Cr Longland told APN Media on the weekend.

But he added that ‘developers don’t like the speed at which development applications are dealt with. The Leda developments are very big. They could have an impact on the environment that lasts forever. We need to do a service to the future community of Tweed and they might not like it.’

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  1. Thats just what we need open and honest governmentat at all levels well done Don Page treat all of us as mushrooms.

    Thanks for Nothing

  2. Reasons for sacking ‘may never be public’

    I’m struggling to understand how the Minister for Local Government Don Page has questioned whether it was ‘ethical’ for Tweed Council to sack their General Manager when a report from two investigators is yet to be handed to him.

    I’m also struggling with his comment that some of the material about the sacking may be withheld suggesting to me that material is bound to be withheld from the public. We’re being softened up for the inevitable.

    Shouldn’t Minister Page be reserving his judgement and comments about the matter until he’s received and digested the investigators’ report?

    There appears to be another agenda here to which the community is not privy. Preemptive comments do the Minister little credit.

  3. So interesting to hear a politician, especially State or Federal commenting on what is moral or ethical…especially when that politician/ party is so far pro development as opposed to pro environment. Which side is likely to have monetary gain as opposed to maintaining animal and plant life, and decent surroundings.

    In general the Australian public has been hoodwinked into giving developers, whether it be real estate or mining, far too much leeway into the destruction of our land, water and oceans.


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