Lismore councillor Elly Bird has defended her decision to walk out of last night’s extraordinary council meeting, saying councillors on holiday leave had the right to debate rescission motions they had lodged late last year.
The meeting was the third called to deal with rescission motions lodged regarding a proposed expansion of Lismore Square Shopping Centre, a Olympic ski-jump facility, an extra 20 greyhound race meetings, and a special business rate variation.
Crs Adam Guise, Vanessa Ekins, Eddie Lloyd and Nancy Casino remain on holiday leave, and Cr Greg Bennet sent his apologies as he is dealing with a health issue.
As a result, with Cr Bird’s decision to walk out last night, mayor Isaac Smith had no choice but to abandon the extraordinary meeting.
Cr Bird said the extraordinary meeting was called at the end of last year at the request of Crs Neil Marks and Gianpiero Battista.
They called for the meeting despite knowing that the other councillors who had moved the rescission motions would be on leave.
‘Regardless of the outcomes of those motions I believe those councillors have the right to be present to debate them and the extraordinary meeting should never have been called,’ Cr Bird said.
‘I wrestled with my conscience on this and I simply can’t participate in a process that denies those absent councillors their right to debate these significant issues regardless of the outcomes of those rescissions.’
The meeting last just 40 minutes, with the majority of the time taken up with three speakers opposing additional greyhound racing as well as the business rate variation, Lismore Square and the ski jump.
About 20 animal rights activists, opposed to the push for more greyhound races, applauded Cr Bird when she announced that she was walking out of the meeting.
Cr Bird did vote on one matter last night … to hold an extraordinary meeting on 5 February to address 20 items that were not dealt with at the final meeting last year.
Meanwhile, Lismore mayor Isaac Smith said another attempt to hold the extraordinary meeting to deal with the outstanding rescission motions would be held on 30 January when Cr Vanessa Ekins returned from leave.
Cr Smith said Crs Eddie Lloyd, Nancy Casson and Adam Guise would still be on leave at that time.
He said the three attempts to hold the meeting had been about following proper process.
‘When two councillors request a meeting to be held it must take place within 14 days or as soon as practicable,’ he said.
Cr Smith said the same process that allowed the councillors to lodge rescission motions also allowed other councillors to call for meetings.
He admitted that ‘this is not how I wanted to start 2018’.
He also confirmed that each failed meeting cost ratepayers around $1,000, which covered staff time and catering.