Independent Ballina Shire Councillor and Rous County Council Deputy Chair Sharon Cadwallader is again pushing for an independent water research team as part of her Dunoon Dam campaign.
Cr Cadwallader has taken advantage of a local government rule allowing councillors to reintroduce a failed motion without having to wait three months if they have the signed support of at least two other councillors.
Cr Eoin Johnston was the only Ballina Shire councillor to support the proposal last month but since then Cr Stephen McCarthy appears to have changed his mind in favour of the motion, given his name is one of Cr Cadwallader’s supporting signatures for the special rule employed this month.
How Ballina Shire Council democracy sausages are made
Cr Nathan Willis was absent from the August ordinary meeting but even if he had been present and voted yes, the motion would still have been lost, since seven of the nine present councillors voted against it.
Taking into account Cr McCarthy’s apparent subsequent swing and allowing for the possibility that Cr Willis could vote in support of Cr Cadwallader on Thursday, the motion would seem to still be doomed at a logical predicted six-four result.
But Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright is known to have changed his mind at the last minute on significant proposals before, such as last month’s affordable housing project proposal for the Old Depot on Ballina Island, and on shark nets some years ago.
Cr Ben Smith also changed his mind at the last minute last month without warning, after saying he would support the affordable housing project.
Cr Smith later told The Echo he was swayed by Cr McCarthy’s comments on the matter, suggesting he could again be swayed today.
Should today’s vote come down to a tie, it will require a casting vote from the mayor.
Something in the water
Cr Cadwallader said earlier this year she’d be running for mayor in the next local government elections and that water security, particularly the dumped Dunoon Dam proposal, would be one of her key campaign issues.
The independent councillor has spoken out against the Rous County Council’s decision to remove the dam from its list of future water security ideas for much of the Northern Rivers including Ballina, Byron, Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas.
Water demand is expected to outstrip supply, which mostly comes from the Rocky Creek Dam, by 2024.
The Rous County Council has agreed to investigate options including groundwater extraction, water recycling, more sustainable water practices and desalination rather than consider a new dam.
But Cr Cadwallader is refusing to give up on the Dunoon Dam and her latest move has been to call for an independent water science team to ‘examine all aspects relating to water’ in the Richmond/Wilsons River catchment area including security, quality, flood mitigation and river health, according to notes on her proposal for the Ballina Shire Council.
Cr Cadwallader says she wants the new team, if agreed on, to investigate ‘potential economic development opportunities and other benefits that would flow’ from their research.
Her proposal, to be heard again today, suggests writing to state parliamentarians ‘highlighting the need’ for the new science team.
Today’s Ballina Shire Council ordinary meeting can be viewed via live streaming through the Ballina Shire Council website.