Coastal Sun Feb 14th 2002 – An Extraordinary Meeting

Coastal Sun – 14 February 2002
Articles associated with the Charcoal plant issue
Published with permission

Three Councillors targeted ‘yellow ribboners’ in the gallery at a most extraordinary Eurobodalla Shire Council Meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Cr Dance gestured ‘Up you’, Cr Green described them as ‘rabble’ and Cr Laugher inferred that he did not wish to represent them.

Eurobodalla Shire Council Chambers was the scene of a most extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Crs Laugher and Dance called the councillor’s together specifically to gag the Mayor, Peter Cairney and to rescind council’s unequivocal NO to the charcoal plant.

Although the yellow ribboners were forced by the rules to remain silent, it did not stop them from making their feelings known. Cheers and claps greeted the mayor, unlike Cr Dance, the subject of boos and hisses.

Cr Dance responded by giving the crowd ‘the finger’.

His obscene gesture inflamed the tempers of the onlookers, causing them to remark on the unfolding scene.

Cr Laugher’s motion to ‘shut the Mayor up!’ was eventually successful. He argued that Mayor Cairney’s comments about the Premier were causing damage to other issues involving state government. When asked ‘which issues’ – he could not recall any but finally mentioned the Bay School site. It was pointed out that this development has nothing to do with state government.

Mayor Cairney asked the question – “Are you inferring that Carr would be spiteful enough to wreak out his vengeance on the innocent people?” Cr Green interjected, “It doesn’t give you the right to be abusive personally. There is growing support from people who believe that there were statements recorded, personally attacking Carr. You were quoted as Mayor and in that cap are speaking as Council.”

Cries went up. “Where are they – those people?”

Cr Green replied, “they are not here – they don’t have to join the rabble in the gallery. This has got to do with democracy.”

Mayor Cairney asked for order and commended Cr Green for being on the right track. “You are right, this is a democracy. It is all about democracy, honesty and openness.”

He stated that he was, however, confused. Council had passed Cr Vardon’s motion in April 2001 to allow the Mayor to comment freely on any decisions that were unanimous. He remarked that he had done just that. Council had given an unequivocal No to the plant.

A vote was eventually taken – For; Vardon, Green, Laugher, Dance, Pollock, Gough.

The Mayor is no longer allowed to speak on behalf of council regarding the charcoal plant.

The second event of the afternoon was a motion to apprise the Premier that comments attributed to Cr Peter Cairney, in the Bay Post, Jan 22 and the Canberra Times, Feb 1, were not supported by the Council of Eurobodalla Shire.

It was pointed out that there was no Bay Post on Jan 22 that there was nothing in the Jan 23rd edition at all.

Cr Laugher hastily removed the dates from the motion and recommitted it. For; Green, Dance, Laugher, Pollock and Gough.

Council will write a letter to the Premier.

Then came the main event as far as the Charcoalition was concerned.

Crs Laugher, Dance and Pollock moved to rescind council’s unequivocal NO to the proposal for a charcoal plant in Eurobodalla Shire.

“Although I am against the plant on this site, I personally know of two other sites,” explained Cr Laugher.

When asked where they were, he replied that it was not his place to tell. “Shame, shame!” echoed through the room. “You were elected to represent us.”

Cr Laugher replied, “I will choose to represent the people that I choose to represent.”

It was pointed out that if we are to have this plant, council must be in a position to request infrastructure and funding to support it, from the state.

Cr Smellin quietly but firmly stated that infrastructure and funding had been included in a previous motion ‘cobbled’ together by Cr Vardon.

For; Vardon, Green, Dance, Pollock, Gough, Laugher.

Council no longer gives an unequivocal NO to the proposal for a charcoal plant.


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