'This is terrible, I am leaving': Councillors walk out

14th November 2017 9:55 PM
Councillors' passions ran high at last night's meeting. Councillors' passions ran high at last night's meeting. Alina Rylko

IN A deceptively decorous meeting, passions ran high and frustration showed as councillors argued their points across finance, fine art and tenders.

At one stage two councillors, left the chamber rather than vote either way on a decision to award tenders to fix roads and infrastructure using companies with potential links to Adani Carmichael Coal Mine.

The November council meeting started off with a move to gladden tradies, as they passed unanimously the proposal allow them to park free of charge outside the CBD premises where they are undertaking work.

Parking permits for Lismore's tradespeople working in the CBD was one of the hot topics at Lismore City Council's meeting.

Councillors agreed with the proposal which amended the current charge of $50 per vehicle/day and $150 per vehicle/week (as adopted in the council's fees and charges) to fee-free.

Council also passed two proposals regarding for the Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, for the Nimbin Lighting Project ($18,000) and for the 2018 Nimbin Roots Festival ($2000).

However, not all matter passed so smoothly.

In the debate on the Lismore Regional Gallery $1 million purchase of Hannah Cabinet, Cr Neil Marks passionate declaration council should agree to undertake fundraising, he compared it to Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles, which caused controversy at time with its $1.3million price tag.

Cr Marks said the lectures Mr Hannah gave on the artwork openings were "standing room only" and council should move quickly to secure significant donations from people keen to ensure it is kept at the gallery.

But Cr Eddie Lloyd who was concerned about the legalities of council fundraising, said the Hannah Cabinet was "no Blue Poles" and there was not need to move quickly.

"Another concern I have is this (fundraising), it's a little but rushed," she said.

"We have not got the legal advice, there's no hurry, lets see if the proposal dreamed up by people is lawful."

The shortest matter of the night was number 10.2. the proposed sale of 308 James Gibson Rd, Clunes.

Cr Bill Moorhouse said "we don't need the land, we might as well sell it, let's get on with the job," and it was carried unanimously.

However, the drama kept on coming when Cr Greg Bennett and Cr Nancy Casson elected to leave the meeting rather than vote on matter 11.8 T2017-32 Civil Works.

After the fiery meeting last month, Cr Bennett said he felt the amendment was there target companies who were associated with the Adani Carmichael Mine.

"It is a very bad principle to get rid of all the tenderers associated with the Adani Carmichael Mine," he said.

"This should not affect our council, we are not here to fight a political battle in Queensland, we are selling out our ratepayers and pushing up their rates."

Cr Bennett said this stand "only make a bad situation a little better."

"When you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig." he said.

"I don't like the position it puts me in, I don't want to vote against the roadworks because they need to be done but I cannot endorse it, this is terrible so I am leaving now.".

After he and Cr Casson left the meeting, mayor Isaac Smith thanked the other counsellors for remaining in the chamber to continue wiht the vote.

"I am disappointed that he and Cr Casson have left," he said.

"Thank you councillors for staying and upholding your duty."

The rest of the matters including sales of council land and Quarterly Budget Review Statements were all passed.

The next ordinary council meeting will be held from 6pm on 12 December 2017.