General News

8 June, 2024

TRC Mayor called out over move on industrial estate

A FORMER councillor is calling out Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti for the way he finally managed to stop a proposed expansion of Tolga Industrial Estate businesses into the rail trail corridor.

TRC Mayor called out over move on industrial estate - feature photo

Cr Marti used his Mayoral Minute to put a motion to council that any actions related to the expansion into the rail trail cease but, in doing so, he did not give the public any notice of his intention, nor the industrial estate businesses involved any opportunity for input.

Items to be discussed at a council meeting must be made available to the public a couple of days prior to the meeting, but a Mayoral Minute does not have to adhere to this process.

Mayor Marti had previously tried to stop the proposed expansion but did not have the numbers in the chamber prior to this year’s election.

David Clifton, who was one of four in the previous council backing the expansion plan, has reprimanded the Mayor for not alerting the general public of his intention to stop council from pursuing the proposal and not allowing businesses involved to have any role in the decision.

“Unlike the original decisions in 2023, which were subject to proper and detailed consultations and deputations with all those persons and groups who felt they had a view, the Mayoral Minute was not tabled until the day of the council meeting and no formal open notice was given to interested persons,” Mr Clifton said.

“The Minute came like a thief in the night, was tabled and resolved with very little argument from councillors other than Cr Cardew, who spoke clearheadedly about the advanced nature of the process and the untimeliness of the Mayoral Minute.

"Can we rely upon the decisions of council into the future or will they be reversed or ignored?"

“There were no questions about community engagement with the landholders, there was no update about any other views – it was a laid down misère, using an old card playing phrase.  

“It certainly did not meet any of the principles for Local Government contained in every TRC agenda of openness, transparency, meaningful community engagement and good governance.

“Given the Mayoral Minute was only made available to those (councillors and management) attending the meeting is reprehensible and symptomatic of the haste and secrecy which accompanied the decision.”

Mr Clifton said the Mayor’s action in reversing the direction of council in relation to the estate businesses’ expansion would raise concerns about what might happen to other decisions the previous council made.

“It will certainly have the effect of undermining the trust and confidence about council decision-making into the future,” he said.

“What will the Mayor do next about another perfectly legal decision of a past council with which he did not agree? 

“(The public) will ask the question – can we rely upon the decisions of council into the future or will they be reversed or ignored?

“Regardless of the actual decision, the process of good government is supposed to be a hallmark of our system of democracy. 

“Council, State and Federal governments are based on the concept of argument and reconciling differences but this must be done in a well-ordained process of orderliness otherwise it will descend to expressions of personal like and dislike and inhibit free speech and openness.

“I think everyone wants our processes of government to be conducted properly and this is a case where this has not been done.”

The Express asked Mayor Marti to respond to Mr Clifton’s views but he chose not to do so.


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