Lismore City Council general manager Paul OSullivan moved to hose down speculation that the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knock-out carnival was a sure thing for Lismore, by issuing an email to staff on Wednesday.
Some media reports are not entirely accurate. Mr OSullivan said. The decision of council is virtually a neutral one and there is no clear yes/no about the Aboriginal carnival going ahead.
His email followed an emotionally torrid night at Lismore City Council chambers, where people openly wept and even councillors speaking in favour of the event choked back tears.
The 7-5 vote against the carnival prompted a masse walk-out, and a flurry of angry outbursts from scores of outraged people both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal.
You have let our young generation down, said Ann Roberts, chair of the Lismore Aboriginal Youth Council. Im so disgusted in you.
Australia Day Ambassador Digby Moran said he had lost all respect for the mayor and Cr Ros Irwin asked for the following to be officially recorded in the Council minutes.
I am ashamed of my Council and I am ashamed of you as mayor, she let fly at Cr Merv King who wrote the original letter declining to support the carnival.
Later, Cr Irwin championed a change of heart when she asked her fellow councillors to reconsider their decision.
Its been a really hard and emotional night, she said. Im asking you all to support this recision motion, because if you do so, it may go some way towards relieving the pain thats happened here tonight.
Councillors unanimously supported the motion that Council negotiate with carnival organisers, police and local community groups to develop an Event Risk Safety and Security Plan to allow the carnival to go ahead.
Yesterday, mayor Merv King, was willing to say that there shouldnt be any problems putting on the event as long as all the criteria of the new safety security plan are met. The security plan is now under construction, with council staff to convene a meeting to start discussions with the Sydney-based league organsers within the next 24 hours.
Time is a factor, Cr King said. But lets hope we can get it up and running.
Bundjalung league organiser Chris Binge wasnt so easily reassured.
They will string this out as long as they can, leaving us little time to organise the event, he said. Consequently Binge has booked a meeting with the Redfern project planners to discuss other options.
Ballina is one of those options, Binge said.
Ballina mayor Phil Silver said they would be happy to sit down with organisers to discuss the carnival and that Ballina would consider it a feather in their cap if they were able to put on an event that another council couldnt manage.
Meanwhile, Cr Ros Irwin said she was disappointed that the general manager should still be undermining confidence in the event. However she congratulated the seven councillors who changed their minds and got in behind the carnival.
We want the council administrators to workshop a risk management policy, with the Merritt-Pattern group and for the carnival to proceed as planned in the October long weekend, Irwin told the Echo.
The spirit and meaning of the council determination was clear, said Cr Irwin. We want the carnival to go ahead.
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