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Byron Shire
August 16, 2022

Where is the leadership following Lismore’s floods?

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As I have made clear in past letters, I have had concerns about the appointment of John Walker as General Manager based on my knowledge of his past business and local government record. 

When reviewing my documents after hearing our mayor on Four Corners last night (more later) I found a story from the ABC Goldfields on Lismore’s current GM after he unveiled his restructure of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Council.

This ABC story was issued in March 2016, soon after John Walker commenced as General Manager and after he had axed the positions of the Directors of Corporate Services, Community Services, Development Services and Engineering Services and replaced them with a Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Does this sound familiar Lismore?

Describing the changes as ‘repositioning’ rather than cost cutting, John Walker said that in addition to the three jobs that had been made redundant, five or six more would probably go and that would save the Council around $1 million a year. 

After he left the Council, there were 71 vacancies on the Council that they were having difficulty filling, and the Council had to repay staff who had been underpaid over the previous five years to the tune of $2 million.

An independent review by the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Council into the culture of the Council, focus group sessions, interviews and surveys were conducted and the findings were that ‘the information provided indicates that there have been ongoing issues related to bullying, harassment and discrimination’ and ‘the organisational culture is toxic and that the City is not a psychologically safe place to work’. 

Mr Walker is now Lismore’s General Manager, appointed by the Steve Krieg team.

Our Mayor, Mr Krieg, said on Four Corners last night that the Council should be put into administration – something I would never have thought any mayor worth their salt would suggest. 

Whilst I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, it seems as though widespread rumours – including that there will be National Party candidates for Lismore at the election next year, possible council amalgamations in our region, the mega quarry at Bentley, the Dunoon Dam, and the site being prepared in Casino, virtually behind closed doors, for a Waste-to-Energy incinerator have some truth. 

These incinerators have been refused in South-West Sydney and indeed anywhere near ‘high-density residential developments’ because of the huge risks to public health and the environment. As one media release said, ‘Regional NSW is being treated like a pack of peasants’ and farmers have strongly opposed them elsewhere owinge to the impact on their farms.

With Lismore City Council being ostensibly prepared for being put into administration, it’s time for people in the region to do the research on these issues and organise to oppose what would clearly have long-term negative impacts on our communities in this wonderful region.

Ros Irwin, Caniaba

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Mate, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about from your loungeroom chair.

    The Lismore council staff have been absolutely amazing in working on Lismore’s strategic direction, there is a lot of work happening at the Council and lots of community consultation, most of this is being done by Council staff not the elected members anyway!

  2. Are you on the same planet:mick? The mayor basically put up his hands and said it’s all too hard. Why did he bother to run for council if he thought it was going to be easy. A typical response from these supposed independents, like our disappearing federal member, Kevin something.

  3. Ros Irwin is talking about other people’s records, well what is her record. Ros Irwin and friends ran Lismore for 20-25 years and could have delivered to the current Council a strong financially prosperous Council, with Lismore flood proofed with well built and well maintained infrastructure. Instead Lismore was a disaster with 3rd world infrastructure that was falling apart, the roads most obviously. Then the floods hit.

    Irwin and friends had their turn to do good works and left a disaster, she should go away and stop causing trouble by hinting at easy solutions that don’t exist and bothering the people trying to fix a mess she bears a strong responsibility for creating. And when she goes she should take the fossils from a past era that remain on Lismore Council with her. Lismore just cannot afford what she is selling. If it wasn’t for hundreds of millions in state aid, Lismore couldn’t survive.

    The solution for Lismore is to be bailed out by the state/federal government to rebuild what Irwin and friends had a large part in destroying. Lismore’s culture is so poor (thanks in part to Irwin and friends) it should have no real role in the rebuild. The state government has realised that and based the restructure organisation in Newcastle.

    Irwin and friends also stuffed Rous County Council, which is another black hole that money gets thrown into for no benefit that will have to be fixed by the state government at some time, but until then people will be paying more and more for an inferior service.

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