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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Questions, questions

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Public servants and those we elect to look after our interests are obliged by law to give reasons for their decisions. Accordingly I’ve made enquiries to try to determine why [Byron Shire Council’s] question time was abolished, whose initiative it was to do so, and whether any debate took place.

Simon Richardson has been silly enough to admit in writing that it is because ‘some persons’ (ie me) used question time to ‘grandstand’ and ‘bully’ that he supported the abolition; in other words it was indeed personal, just as I thought. For a nice bloke Simon’s pretty good at the old putdown, isn’t he? Of course he’d be the last bloke to realise he’s just shooting the messenger.

I’ve been less successful in determining who was brave enough to initiate the change. My letter to GM Ken Gainger as to whether the change came via a staff recommendation or a motion from one of the councillors was met with the reply ‘neither’, followed with the usual evasive bureaucratese about committee processes. Well, well, in the age of science we seem to have a veritable miracle: the words ‘public question time’ simply disappeared themselves from the relevant policy. Let’s call it the Immaculate Deletion – with Simon in the role of cuckold.

The abolition of question time saves staff a lot of grief. The smugness in Ken Gainger’s letter tells me it was the staff who planted the idea, which would of course fall on fertile ground given the resentment of many councillors at any suggestion that there are things they might have missed or not have understood. The senior staff are excellent psychologists and they have a long-established tradition of manipulating inexperienced and well-meaning councillors. If flattery and false camaraderie fail they can always resort to active undermining – ask Jan Barham.

The fact that staff are on good terms with Simon Richardson tells me they regard him as a harmless chump.

Sorry about that, Simon, but surely you at least noticed that you were screwed in relation to the Splendour noise issue? You were under the impression that Council had no power to enforce noise limits and that that was the sole responsibility of the state government. Rather than read the actual letter from the relevant department you chose to uncritically believe a misleading assertion made in the staff report. I hope you are suitably embarrassed. Maybe you’ll even draw the appropriate conclusions about who are your real friends.

Fast Buck$, Coorabell


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