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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Business chamber ‘shouldn’t be rewarded’

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Luis Feliu

A Tweed Shire councillor says Murwillumbah’s business chamber should not be rewarded with $5,500 in sponsorship for its annual gala awards event because of the leading role it took recently in criticising council and calling for the mayor’s sacking.

Murwillumbah District Business Chamber president Toni Zuschke was prominent among those at public events calling for mayor Barry Longland to step down after a majority of councillors voted to sack former general manager David Keenan, a move which was later vindicated by the state government.

Cr Gary Bagnall said that after copping all the criticism from the chamber over the GM’s sacking, the business chamber was ‘now coming to us with their hand out for money’.

Cr Bagnall and Cr Katie Milne opposed giving the $5,500 in sponsorship to the chamber for its business awards night on October 12, saying it was a bad move.

They said it was businesses doing it tough that should be supported by the shire and chamber, rather than those doing well.

Acting general manager Troy Green had recommended that council become a ‘silver’ sponsor for the awards involving $1,100 sponsorship, but Crs Warren Polglase and Phil Youngblutt moved for the $5,500 ‘platinum’ sponsorship instead, and for council to allow the Tweed Heads Civic Centre fee be waived for the gala cocktail and presentation night

Mr Green said that council’s support of the awards was good for council’s public relations.

But Cr Bagnall said ‘it’s not council that needs good public relations development, but the business chamber, in light of their outbursts at the rally (over the sacking of the former GM) and criticism of council over it’.

‘Taking this money out of our budget for economic development is a bad move, we have limited funding and that funding is supposed to help the whole of the Tweed by boosting new business and economic development, I feel that it’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul,’ he said.

Cr Bagnall said he would have supported the lower $1,100 amount for sponsorship but felt the higher amount was over the top.

 

Struggling

‘We shouldn’t be rewarding those businesses doing well, many in this town are struggling and closing down.’

But Cr Youngblutt, a former president of the business chamber, said there was ‘no point helping those unable to continue, there’s very little we can do.

‘You must try and promote the area overall, I think it’s money well spent,’ he said.

Cr Milne said it was not the best use of the limited funds which had been set aside last year for economic development, but were now being ‘frittered away’.

‘We don’t need to attach a financial amount to our support, the chamber already has $55,000 in sponsorship.’

She also said it was not council policy to allow free use of the centre at Tweed Heads under which community groups had to pay 50 per cent of the fee and council should stick to that, as sponsorship support ‘should be enough’.

Cr Milne also proposed council set up its own awards with a focus on cultural and sustainable economic development, which was ‘not identified in these awards’.

A motion by Crs Milne and Bagnall to support $1,100 in sponsorship on condition that it ‘relates to contributions towards ecological sustainability, cultural development and community benefit’ was lost 2-5, while the higher amount move by Crs Polglase and Youngblutt was approved along the same voting pattern 5-2.

 

 


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3 COMMENTS

  1. When will Toni Zuschke be asked to step down as President of the Murwillumbah Business Chamber for her constant misrepresentation of the needs of local business? These chambers need a major shake up as they no longer represent (if they ever did) small business (except their own), they are constantly wrong, as was clearly evidenced in the issue of the General Manager and they have too much sway with media as was also evidenced by the amount of attention whipped up in the local papers over this so called wrong dismissal. Clearly it wasn’t. Move on peops!

  2. Thank You for the balanced article Luis. However i tend to agree with Bagnall and Milne. Why should my rate funds be given to those who attack a council for no logical or rational reason which means it was little more that highly political.
    Those who attacked our Council accepted that it was OK to have a CEO who ignored the elected council’s views as long as that CEO followed the views they agreed with.
    Are these people interested in supporting a democratic position or are they only interested in their minority position?

  3. Sensible suggestions rejected 5 votes to 2 – What a nonsense.

    I am disappointed but not surprised that poor old Phil is quoted as saying there is “no point helping those unable to continue”.

    All existing businesses, and prospective new businesses, in the Tweed should take note. Council is only really interested in you if you are already doing well. If you encounter difficulties then its “see ya later alligator”.

    Council should be proactive in supporting local businesses. It should be looking at its fees and charges and reducing or removing those that hinder business activity and success. The charge for tables in front of cafe’s is a good example. For what services and benefits delivered by Council are these cafes charged $200 – $300 per square metre? It looks to me a lot like gouging a fee from business just because they can. Charging a fee does not make it easier to walk past. It does not keep it cleaner. It just adds to Council’s coffers and pushes up the prices that the cafe has to charge to cover its costs.

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