Councillor claims old boys club in control

Cr Margaret Howes stormed out of last Thursdays Ballina Shire Council meeting saying she was sick of the old boys network.

You can do the lot, she yelled angrily. Im off. Im not going to sit here while you manipulate things with your old boys club.

Her comments came after a voting split along gender lines, where the four male councillors present chose an absent male councillor (David Wright) for two committee positions which Cr Sharon Cadwallader also wanted.

The voting came down to a 4/2 split with Cr Howes the only councillor to support Cr Cadwallader in her bid to get onto the airport and facilities committees. Cr Howes said more female representation was needed.

However, mayor Phillip Silver said considering Council had just voted in a female deputy mayor, accusations of gender bias were illogical. He said the committees in question were entirely advisory and all they did was make recommendations to Council. All councillors received business papers for committee meetings and were welcome to attend, he said.

After Cr Howes departed, the remainder of the meeting was run with only five councillors out of nine in attendance the minimum needed for a quorum.

The quorum lapsed when Cr Cadwallader had to leave the chamber because she had declared an interest in an agenda item. The item could not be dealt with.

At the end of the meeting Cr Cadwallader questioned Councils general manager, John Christopherson, over the legality of nominating a councillor who was not present to accept either the nomination or the position.

Mr Christopherson said the election had been in order according to Councils meeting code of practice.

Cr Cadwallader said she felt the Minister for Local Government, Kerry Hickey, might be interested in the lack of female representation on key strategic committees.

As a councillor representing Lennox Head she said she was particularly disappointed not to be on the facilities committee.

The Lennox Head community centre is pivotal, she said. A lot of the time theres no Ward B representation on the (facilities) committee because Peter Moore is often unable to attend.

She also questioned a decision Council made at the end of the meeting to send the facilities committee to Port Douglas. The committee will inspect the community centre there, which is being recommended as a possible model for Lennox Head.

Lets face it, with technology the way it is today, why couldnt you get a disc sent down to save the ratepayers money, she said.

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