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April 1, 2023

Tweed MP calls for mayor to resign over hospital boycott

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National Party member for Tweed, Geoff Provest.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) has called for the Shire’s mayor, Katie Milne (Greens), to resign over comments she made earlier in the week that the council could consider boycotting contractors who worked at the contentious Kingscliff site of the new Tweed hospital.

Cr Milne has responded that neither she nor the council were considering a boycott at this stage.

But she has added that ‘sanctions are… an accepted part of international diplomacy’.


Her initial comments came amid the heat of a confrontation on Monday (November 5) when she was among a group of activists that formed a blockade around the newly acquired hospital site.

She added that council would consider calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the process of establishing the new hospital site.


Tweed mayor Katie Milne.

‘Bypassing all approvals processes the state government [on Monday] made their way through the dozen, mostly women protestors who had stayed behind to keep guard after the construction trucks had not turned up that morning’ Cr Milne said.

‘One woman was prepared to stand her ground and be arrested, and the police who were great were advised of this. There was no stopping those trucks on that day though.’

Parliamentary inquiry

‘I have put a motion to the next council meeting calling for a parliamentary inquiry into this whole process. Sadly, it can be the case that some decisions just don’t make sense and, in such cases, it is sensible for these decisions to be questioned.

‘I am also calling for the release of any diagrams of the footprint of the expanded Tweed Heads option into the civic precinct.

‘I commend the actions of protestors. In any democracy it is vital the community holds the government to account. Inquiries, protests, boycotts and blockades are a necessary part of the community’s ability to make governments accountable.

‘Sanctions are also an accepted part of international diplomacy.

‘The Relocate organisers yesterday withdrew their request for support from council for a boycott and blockade, so a debate on this at council will not proceed at this stage,’ she said.

Community outrage: Provest

Mr Provest said he ‘share[d] the community’s outrage over calls from Tweed Shire mayor Katie Milne to boycott local businesses who are engaged to work on the new Tweed Hospital’.

‘Through the planning processes with NSW Health Infrastructure, I have been working tirelessly to ensure as much work as possible goes to local businesses and contractors to boost our local workforce. These comments from Cr Milne jeopardise those discussions,’ he said.

‘Building the new Tweed Hospital provides an opportunity for local businesses, big and small, to be a part of one of the biggest government investments in Tweed’s history.

‘Cr Milne’s comments are a direct attack on our local workforce. They are threatening in their nature and show a complete disregard for local businesses.

‘The mayor should not only provide a full apology to the Tweed community, but I believe she has shown her inability to lead an effective council, and therefore should tender her resignation,’ Mr Provest said.

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  1. These bully tactics are out of line and completely unacceptable, Ms Milne needs to step back, take a breath and apologise. In the light of this behaviour I for one will most certainly think hard before endorsing her again. Hopefully such a sanction would never pass council.

  2. Read the “Local Govt Act” Mayor Milne is doing exactly what the guidelines permit.
    It is the Nat’s and their Pro-developer base that are way out of line, flapping their huge right wings, spinning around in circles creating nothing but more hot air as usual.
    Perhaps they could call ‘cash for comment” Jones to give our female Mayor another kick in the guts like he did last month?

    • I thought they were flapping their wings in an attempt to build a hospital that will benefit the Tweed community. I’m not sure these guidelines you speak of instruct Local Govt, and in this case the Tweed mayor, to boycott local businesses, tradesmen and workers, jeopardising their livelihoods and the local economy in the process. I missed Alan Jones commentary, I’ll have to google it up, I’m sure it’s a good listen, and accurate.

    • Tweed Your comment would be more useful if you stated which part of the Local Government Act you refer to. As I noted in my post yesterday the relevant guideline on procurement is that provided by the Office of Local Government on tendering; they advise: ” Councils should be mindful that they must act in the interests of their residents, ratepayers and the wider community and that, when considering expenditure of public monies, they:
      . Are open, transparent and accountable in their dealings
      . Ensure that their dealings promote fairness and competition, and
      . Obtain best value ”

      I note that while the guidelines require tendering for procurement over $150,000 the general principles that must be kept in mind are not limited by any sum.

      Milne’s threat if carried through would compromise the engagement of contractors for council and for the hospital and so not be in the interest of the residents, ratepayers and the community. It would also compromise fairness and competition and obtaining best value. Some of course would argue actions aimed at overturning the selection of the site are in the public interest, but I would suggest pursuing the public interest on what is a state government matter is not a Council function and so that would not be relevant to deciding if she acted in accord with the guidelines on procurement for the purpose of Council functions.

      It would appear she has backed away from her irresponsible comments but Provost is right – her comments bring in to question her fitness to exercise her Mayoral functions.

      • Which “threat” are you actually referring to? Even if you weren’t there at the time, the Mayor’s words were captured on tape and published on facebook for all to see and hear. At NO TIME did she threaten a boycott, in fact she said that she would would refer the suggestion put to her by a constituent for a boycott to the next council meeting and table it for discussion and debate. All above board and perfectly ethical, nothing to see here folks. Of course Provest jumps straight onto this red herring and tries to use it for political leverage. Have NEVER seen him move so fast !!! Still waiting for the trains to run and the High School at Pottsville but, both broken promises of very long standing. Bring on the Parliamentary Enquiry into this whole smelly business I say, well done Katie! Yes to the hospital, no to the chosen site.

        • Not rejecting immediately the threat of a boycott and suggested taking it to the next council meeting and table it for discussion and debate is a damning indictment on her judgement, and her lack of understanding of council governance.

  3. According to the NSW Government website http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Controls/…/O3%20-%20Constitutional%20Corporation_3.pdf, ‘under Section 220 of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) a council is a body corporate. That is, by virtue of the Act, councils are corporations….Most recent case law supports the view that councils would, in most circumstances, be trading corporations.’ The Act states that ‘a law of the State applies to and in respect of a council in the same way it applies to and in respect of a body corporate (including a corporation)’.

    As a corporation/body corporate, Council would have a right to employ or not employ whoever they like based on what they believe is best for the corporation, ie the community. The Council has opposed the hospital on the state significant farmland Cudgen site in the best interests of the community. Katie Milne as Mayor is acting in the best interests of the community and reflecting the Council’s right to decide who they employ. If Council decides not employ entities who are not aligned with their stance on an issue, they have the right to do so.

    The Council has plenty of local businesses from which to choose when accepting tenders, so it is appropriate that Council would give preference to those who are aligned with Council’s stance on an issue. After all, the council is the democratically elected voice of the community.

    The Byron, Tweed and Lismore Council have passed resolutions to reserve the right to refuse tenders from contractors associated with the Adani coal mine. Similarly the Tweed Council should have the same right to refuse tenders from contractors associated with inappropriate development on state significant farmland.

    Good on you, Katie Milne, for your attempts to put up a motion for Council to consider in the best interests of the community they represent. As a State MP, I would expect that Geoff Provest should be aware of the above State Government legislation, and that Cr Milne was within her rights to raise this issue with Council and that he is not within his rights to call for her resignation. This looks to me like a political point-scoring play to his National Party supporters.

    • I would have thought the requirement under the LG Act to follow guidelines, including the requirement to ensure spending of public money promotes fairness and competition, and obtains best value are more relevant to this matter. So too is the need to act in the interests of their residents, ratepayers and the wider community. Any such move would risk compromising procurement for the hospital or council or both and plainly that is not in the community interest. Whether the hospital site choice is correct is a matter of public interest and Green members of the State parliament can join Labor and press that public interest in public fora, the parliament and committees, but it is not a council function to interfere in state governemnt procurement. That other councils have probably acted inappropriately in respect of Adani is not a reason not to condemn Milne; those were token exercises that would not have directly affected the livelihood of tradies and other small businesses in the Tweed.

  4. Cr. Milne should be sacked for suggesting such a thing. Council’s job is to use the best contractor for the job without favour. Any suggestion otherwise is a blatant abuse.

  5. Totally blown out of proportion by the nationals to divert attention from themselves – the so called farmers party who has sold out our farmers and lost the tweed state significant farmland. If anyone needs to resign or not get voted back in at the next election it’s Geoff Provest. Katie Milne has once again done a stellar job of listening to and standing with the Tweed residents. After many decades trying, it finally looks like the National party and their cronies have got their development on Cudgen Plateau – I totally understand Mayor Milne’s frustration and disbelief over this.

  6. When governments act in secrecy, then ride roughshod over the rights and well-being of citizens, it is a failure of democracy. This O’Farrell/Baird/Berejiklian government has shown contempt for the people of this State over and over again. They govern as though NSW is a dictatorship.
    Thank you Katie Milne for standing with the people against the COALition tyrants in Macquarie Street.
    As for the National’s Mr. Provest running his divide and conquer campaign over jobs, there will be jobs available no matter where the new Tweed hospital is built.

  7. Thank you Cr. Milne for standing up for your constituents. It is disappointing that the NSW Government isn’t listening.

    From their city-centric chairs the proposal might seem appropriate. Kingscliff has a holiday village atmosphere.

    This attracts many people who seek this life style.

    A hospital located here will change it forever escalating development and ruining what we have.

    • This is not about Milne’s standing up for her residents. It is about her using council procurement to threaten contractors who do not agree with her political stand and who wish to bid for work on the hospital. When in the 1950s the motion picture industry named unionists as communists and refused to employ them, people with leftist leanings the left and many other fair-minded people protested that it was a form of political censorship. Now those on the left are perfectly happy to have Milne apply the same sort of politically motivated pressure on small business and tradies who do not support her stance on the hospital.

      Milne has backed down from her hasty and heated commentary but not before showing her true colours: her lack of care for governance and for the principle that we should be able to bid for work funded from public money based on our suitability for the job, not our political views.

      • Peter, This is about protecting State Significant Farming Land and communities from a Government acting in “break-neck” speed bulldozing through a seemingly spurious agenda. Don’t get caught up in the red herrings!

        • The thrust of this article is Provost’s response to Milne’s failure to rule out access to council procurement as a means of pressuring contractors to boycott the Tweed hospital site. . Is there anything more precious in our democracy than the right of people to hold legitimate but differing views . This is a serious breach of the right of people to be treated fairly by any contracting process.regardless of whether they hold the same views as the party in power in any governemnt or council, something not countenanced by the fairness provisions in the NSW guidelines for local governemnt procurement and the Tweed Council’s own procurement guidelines. That is serious and hardly a red herring

  8. Eventually Mayor Katie Milne has become the opposition and the target of the State member for Tweed Geoff Provest. Geoff fires a broadside that he wants Katie Milne to resign as mayor.
    From our State member those words are very antagonistic and confrontational.
    Meanwhile Geoff Provest is quiet and non-confrontational to his Labor opponent Craig Elliot
    Who then is the most dangerous person for Geoff Provest to tackle for the State seat of Tweed? It must be Katie Milne, as she being female would carry the female vote as they protest her and stick by her. “…when she was among a group of activists that formed a blockade around the newly acquired hospital site.”

  9. The local members are the ones who should resign. They have continually downgraded the Murwillumbah Hospital … and promoted… the urbanisation of the rich Cudgen agriculture lands. Subdividing and building over rich protected farmlands is nothing less than stealing from our grandchildren. Good on you Katie for showing some fight.

    • I fail to see what this has to do with the rail trail. I understand Milne from her comments in council debate on the rail trail and form those who have spoken to her she is quite positive to the rail trail, and it would not seem likely that any proposed contractor on the hospital would also be involved with the rail trail construction. I have commented before on her apparent lack of understanding of public transport issues. If there is anything in common there it would be her apparent lack of familiarity with the Tweeds Shire’s documented polices on both public transport and on the governance of purchasing.

  10. Both the hospital ground works and the rail tail will involve earth works, so a local contractor(s) might possibly be involved in both activities.

    • Perhaps you are right Jack, and the best value contractor might well be a local (I can recommend one who did work for me). So why would any responsible governemnt or council not want to use the best value contractor on both jobs? And why should we be using access to public money as a way of forcing contractors to support a boycott they might well not agree with it?

      I do not a have a view on the site selection of the hospital, but as someone who has protested things important to me like the Springbok tours, I support the right of Milne and others to protest something they care about. However it reflects poorly on the strength of the case they are putting forward that they see a need to use economic pressure to get others to go along with their boycott, even countenancing flaunting the governance of coucnil procurement to do so.


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