Coastal Sun February 14th 2002 – “It’s Going Ahead”

Published with permission

“It’s Going Ahead!”

Bob Carr speaks with ‘The Sun’ and congratulates local ‘Red Ribboner’

NSW Premier Bob Carr congratulated local charcoal factory supporter, Rodney Morley in Sydney last week for his stance on the development.

Mr Morley approached the Premier at Circular Quay during the firefighters’ ticker tape parade with a Sun reporter.

Rodney told Mr Carr, “We want the charcoal plant to go ahead.”

The Premier replied, “It is going ahead – end of story.

“I am personally aware of the issue. I have spoken with council and other departments and am certain the development is environmentally sound – it’s going ahead – it’s as simple as that.

“We need jobs in that area. The process shows a number of jobs will be created and I support them. I will not be swayed or bullied on this issue -the plant is going to happen.”

Mr Morley showed his support for the Premier, who once again forcefully shook his hand and congratulated him for being ‘mature’ about the debate. The Sun took the opportunity to speak with the Premier about the issue. “Has the NSW Labor Government purposely chosen the seat of Bega as the dumping ground for this development to ensure strong polling in marginal Labor seats such as Lithgow, in the upcoming election?”

“Humph – that is absurd!” declared the Premier.

Mr Morley was thrilled with Carr’s words of praise.

From the desk of Cr Peter Cairney
In my role as Mayor, I am not allowed by Council to comment on the charcoal factory. I will of course keep on voicing my dissent as one of your nine representatives.

My personal views no longer coincide with those of the majority anyway. Council no longer is unanimous in saying no.

I will however comment on the fact that as Mayor, I was given the responsibility, by a majority vote, to speak on behalf of council regarding unanimous decisions. I will continue to do so.

I am guilty of having the temerity to criticize a political leader. When I did this, I did it with the knowledge that Council had voiced an unequivocal no. When faced with the fact that this Shire was being forced to accept something we did not want and when faced with the fact that our request for rational discussion of the matter was ignored; I spoke out, vehemently. Sometimes you have to make noise to get attention.

Some of the other councillors do not agree. They think that if they speak out, the state government will wreak vengeance on this shire.

If their fears are true then it is a sad, sad world we live in. To live in fear that we may be punished for voicing our views in a vehement manner is scary.

I do not believe for a second that any government would punish innocent people for standing up for their rights. We live in Australia – a democracy. Australians have a unique and rather endearing trait. We do not stand on ceremony when it comes to voicing our opinions about our governments and their leaders – especially when we perceive indifference and wrongdoing. We see examples of this every day when our various parliaments are in session. Insults fly thick and fast across the floor.

Debates tend to inflame tempers so we use words to emphasize our beliefs. Sometimes these words are inflammatory but then sometimes they have to be in order to make the point.

We are quick to criticize absurdity but we are equally quick to praise inspiration.

Australians are very lucky to live in a country governed by democracy. Over the years many have fought to retain that democracy and with it the right to speak out. I for one will keep on doing so.

An Extraordinary Meeting
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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