Grandstanding political agendas 'out of control' at meetings

Councillor criticises council meetings for delving too much into state and federal issues.
Councillor criticises council meetings for delving too much into state and federal issues. Northern Star

PEDALLING political agendas has been "getting out of control" at Lismore City Council meetings according to one outspoken councillor, who aired frustrations about meetings diverting outside the council's "sphere of relevance".

Cr Gianpiero Battisa made the claims after what he said were a raft of federal and state issues dominating the local government agenda in recent times.

Lismore MP Thomas George shared Cr Battista's frustration and weighed into the debate.

"I never ever supported party politics in local government. (Councillors) are there to look after the community needs," Mr George said.

The tensions flared from a notice of motion put forward, by Cr Vanessa Ekins to change the date of Australia Day at last night's meeting.

Cr Ekins is a member of the NSW Greens, which has campaigned to change the controversial date.

Do you think there is too much focus on State and Federal issues at Lismore City Council meetings?

This poll ended on 16 August 2017.

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Yes, councillors should have a stronger focus on issues within their local government jurisdiction


I think the issues raised at the council meetings are relevant local issues


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Councillors voted in favour of the motion with the existing January 26 date being cited as offensive to indigenous peoples, marking the arrival of the first fleet from Britain.

The motion was amended by Cr Ekins for it to be referred to the Aboriginal Advisory Group to consider and vote on at their meeting next week. 

Cr Ekins said the amendment would provide more weight to their lobbying for change at the Federal Government level. 

The motion was criticised and voted against by Cr Battista, who said the celebration of the national day needs to be discussed in a federal forum not just within the Lismore City Council chamber.

He said moving the date of Australia Day could create divisions with surrounding councils.

Cr Ekins hit back at the criticism and said the motion aimed to "instigate a conversation about an appropriate date".

She said Australia Day was an entrenched community event and it was part of the council's duty to lobby State and Federal Governments on relevant community issues.

"It's about reflecting community aspirations and ideals ... not just roads, rates and rubbish," Cr Ekins said.

Mr George acknowledged a function of local government was to put issues to the State and Federal Governments but he questioned the relevance of some topics pushed by Lismore councillors in the chamber.

For example, he cited Cr Eddie Lloyd's notice of motion in June about writing to Page MP Kevin Hogan stating the council's "dissatisfaction with any bank or government funding of the proposed Adani Carmichael Coalmine."

It also sought to write to Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev and its board of directors to rule out funding for the proposed mine.

"Does that affect Lismore City Council running their area or other councils' running their area?," Mr George said.

"Motions along those lines are based on party politics and what other people see in general of the wider politics of not only the local area but the state and federal situation."

Stopping the establishment of the Adani coal mine has been central to recent campaigns by the Labor party, of which Cr Lloyd is a member with Lismore Country Labor.

The motion was never put to a vote due to the council being unable to form a quorum with a number of councillors leaving the chamber citing conflicts of interest.

Topics:  council meetings lismore city council local government northern rivers politics

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