I lost it in public question time in Ballina Shire Council (BSC) last Thursday. But hey, there was surely provocation?
Firstly, cash investments policy. Submissions: 53 in favour of retaining the 0.05 per cent advantage for non-fossil fuel investments (and three against) were dismissed by a ready willingness of most councillors to support planet-destroying emitters for the sake of a few dollars.
The four in favour of retaining the advantage noted in vain that most residents, when asked, want Council to prioritise the climate change emergency.
Secondly, refusal to help a volunteer Wardell Community organisation about to close owing to no money for the rent and food.
The motion was for less than one per cent of a large flood recovery grant. BSC it seems has no empathy that homeless, possession-less, traumatised flood victims are helped by an on-going, stable, safe, local, community ‘home’. Such a small amount of money for a Council. Such a desperate need – refused.
Thirdly, the Mayor, Sharon Cadwallader, heckled Cr Jeff Johnson about his noting (accurately most of the time in my experience) that team Cadwallader votes as a block. She declared ‘the election is over so forget about it!’. I congratulate the only four true Independents I see there. They are Cr Eoin Johnston, Cr Jeff Johnson, and the two Greens: Cr Simon Chate and Cr Kiri Dicker, and no, these last aren’t toeing a party line.
Fourthly, the mayor added her casting vote to the count rapidly without declaring it. In error as it turned out. The public need to know how a mayor uses that privileged vote because in Ballina now it isn’t being used in accord with Westminster democratic convention. Its use needs to be clearly identified after the councillors’ vote has been declared.
Want to know what I said at the meeting? That six of the recently appointed eight Rous County Council (RCC) councillors – including the Ballina two – may have compromised our future water security and were ignorant of the Dept of Planning and Environment (DPE) requirements for a 20–40 year Future Water Plan.
My Intended Question: ‘The DPE approved the RCC July 2021 Future Water Plan 2060 in March 2022. That plan identified cultural/heritage and environment concerns as the two most important determinants. Dunoon Dam was omitted because it conflicted with those priorities. But also because all the specialist evidence presented confirmed that the dam was not necessary for water security.
Ordered by the minister for water in response to a biased pro-dam petition, the CSIRO reports were submitted Feb 14th, 2022. Not only did the CSIRO support these priorities but advised against large infrastructure projects – read Dunoon Dam – for the Northern Rivers region as well.
Will Ballina Council now advise RCC that this Council requests that RCC reinstates the July 2021 Future Water Plan 2060 and stops wasting thousands of dollars pursuing new data to justify a dead duck dam? It is hardly scientific to ignore sound research until palatable findings support a predetermined outcome, in this case, the dam.’