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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Deflection

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Fast Buck$, Coorabell

In November last year The Echo published an undertaking by the mayor: ‘I’ll be happy to look into it’. The context was the legal battle between Council and Butler Strett residents. During the proceedings Council issued a demand for details of individual residents and who’d made financial contributions to the fighting fund. The issue then became: ‘Who authorised this tactic and why’?

For months nothing was heard. I assumed that the mayor had either not bothered to look into the matter or he was reluctant to report that it was GM Ken Gainger.

Determined not to let him get away with this, I put a question specifically addressed to the mayor at the June Council meeting that required an answer from him personally. However, in August a purported reply to my question was posted by ‘legal counsel’, ie not merely by a lawyer – but an unnamed one.

I don’t have the space to detail how it was done; let’s just say the material posted was not, in my opinion, in any sense an ‘answer’ to my question as it provided none of the information sought, but confounded issues that were quite unrelated.

Lawyers call this the ‘apples and oranges’ technique; you ask a question about apples and they provide instead a lot of detail about oranges.

At least 50 per cent of the questions I’ve put to Council over the past two years have been responded to in what I consider an evasive or misleading manner. And Simon just sits there as though it’s got nothing to do with him.

♦ The mayor’s and staff reply will be published next week.

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