Cr Simon Clough, deputy mayor, Lismore City Council
Councillor Greg Bennett of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and a climate change sceptic has made no secret of the fact that if he and his conservative colleagues get the majority of seats on Lismore City Council he will seek to abolish the Community Services and Environmental sections of Council as well as to not proceed with the new art gallery.
I believe it’s important to look at the implications of these proposals for a moment. Firstly, of course Council would lose very experienced and highly valued staff. Closing Community Services would mean the loss of grants to community organisations totalling nearly $100,000, all the community consultative groups such as the five district advisory groups, the Nimbin Advisory Group and the Aboriginal Advisory Group would close. It’s not clear what would happen to the Sport and Recreation Capital Grants totalling nearly $200,000, they may well go too. Loss of the Environment Section would close the Biodiversity Management Strategy, the Koala Plan of Management and the Rural Landholder Initiative not to mention delaying DA’s for want of an “on tap” ecologist. Council’s Renewable Energy Master Plan would also be lost, destroying any hope of Council being dependent on renewables by 2023 and losing its leadership role in combat climate change.
Losing the proposed new art gallery would be a huge disappointment, sentencing the existing staff to totally inadequate accommodation, not to mention putting Council’s collection of over 1,000 paintings at risk. Council would also forfeit almost $2.8 million in Federal grants and a further $500,000 from the Margaret Olley Trust. Nearly $200,000 in community donations would have to be returned and the overall cultural plan for the site as a vibrant cultural heart for our city would be lost.
So I suggest that voters carefully consider whether they want to maintain the positive momentum generated by the Council under Mayor Dowell, or head down the slash and burn route advocated by Councillor Bennett.