OPINION: Green policies mean potholes

7th December 2017 7:00 AM
LONE CONSERVATIVE: Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter LONE CONSERVATIVE: Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter Francis Cloake

LAST week saw a change in pace for Council and one that has not gained anything useful.

General Manager Ken Gainger's resignation says a lot about Council when the person who has driven the change to become rated as Fit for the Future from a NSW Treasury rating just a few short years ago that had Byron Shire Council financial situation rated as weak and deteriorating, has walked.

This is the same GM who was instructed to push hard, to take risks, to push the boundary and deliver benefits to the community like we haven't seen for many years.

The GM took a strong leadership role in the Byron Bay Town Master Plan to the point he was making thing happen according to that plan.

Unfortunately he was fed a furphy. Apparently we didn't mean what we said!

We said, "push the envelope and get things done, but wait, not that fast!”

He had no choice but to resign.

To top it all off in the Council Chambers, we saw a decision by councillors not to contract or engage in services under any existing or future contract with Downer EDI or any subsidiaries, including the RPQ Group and NSW Spray Seal, until they publicly withdraw from their agreement with Adani to construct and operate the Carmichael mine and publicly renounce any further involvement with Adani and the Carmichael mine.

The motion passed last week went on further to prevent Byron Council awarding any future contracts to any company involved with Adani or the construction of the Carmichael mine until they renounce any involvement with Adani or the

mine.

What does this mean?

Council staff, under the guidance of the GM, have been looking for innovative ways to lower costs and one such decision has been to join three other councils in the region, namely Kyogle, Lismore and Richmond Valley to leverage our purchasing power by calling for joint tenders for products and services in our road projects. The benefits of the combined tenders were the buying power of the four councils working collaboratively rather than individually.

This decision isolates us so that we will be at least $50,000 worse off in our $40 million road spend this financial year. These contracts are mostly offered and accepted on a 10 year basis, so the $50,000 annual difference could well blow out to $500,000 especially if we have to break a contract or we can't secure the next cheapest quote.

This was a very dumb decision. We can only conclude this Council has a distinct dislike for any prudent financial management and instead is prepared to use our money to further a political cause.

It is difficult to see how the decision to boycott the companies supplying products and services to Adani will make one bit of difference, particularly if those companies are employing local people.

We might want to think more about our vote in council elections next time because voting Green now means voting for more pot holes and raises serious questions about supporting paid parking for raising revenue, just to be wasted with political decisions like this.