Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades.
Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades. Rob Wright

Mayor called a dog in parliament

COFFS Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades’ first reaction to Andrew Stoner’s comment in Question Time yesterday about dogs and fleas was to chuckle.

See the quote below.

“I did get a laugh out of it,” Cr Rhoades said yesterday. “I had better be a bit self-conscious and not walk around scratching myself.

“I think (Mr Stoner) was getting frustrated. It did put the issue on the agenda.

“I was thankful to David Borger for his kind words.”

Cr Rhoades said his meeting with the NSW Roads Minister showed if people were prepared to put issues on the table, they could get results.

He said the minister was the only person who could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to work on the highway, while the leader of the Opposition could not.

Cr Rhoades said he found it strange that members of the Opposition could not swiftly arrange meetings with ministers who did not ‘lock themselves in their offices’ and they also had the opportunity in Question Time each day to talk about the matter.

Cr Rhoades said he had been in Sydney on Monday on another matter and had taken the opportunity on behalf of himself and the Bellingen Shire mayor, Cr Mark Troy, now the acting chairman of the Pacific Highway Task Force, to try to arrange a meeting with Mr Borger, and Cr Troy had been unable to attend due to the short notice when the meeting was finally approved.

The former chairman, Cr Richie Williamson, is standing for election as an independent in the State seat of Clarence in the March State election.

Mr Stoner said he had not intended to call the mayor of Coffs Harbour a dog, but had made the comment to Mr Borger that if he lay down with dogs he would catch fleas because Mr Borger was: “doing exactly what (former Roads Minister) Joe Tripodi did about five years ago, playing ‘tag team’ with Mr Rhoades to play politics on the Pacific Highway.

“I advised him he was making the same mistake his colleague had made, which blew up in his face . . . I was advising him not to play those games.”

Mr Tripodi was physically seized in Parliament by the member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser in 2005 after an altercation over Pacific Highway issues. Mr Fraser was forced to apologise for his assault on the then Roads Minister.

Cr Rhoades, who said he had good contacts in all major parties, said his negotiations with Mr Tripodi about the Bonville accident black spot had swiftly led to expenditure of about $1 million for two speed cameras and the agreement to install centre barriers.

He said now those two speed cameras could be relocated, without additional expenditure.

 

Hansard of the NSW Legislative Assembly, Nov 24

NSW ROADS MINISTER DAVID BORGER:
...Yesterday afternoon I met with the Mayor of Coffs Harbour, Keith Rhoades. He is a decent fellow. We met here in Parliament House to discuss his concerns, particularly in light of the recent tragedies near Urunga. We had a sensible and considered discussion about what could be done to improve safety at that location. We achieved a lot in 30 mins. of very sensible discussion...
SHADOW ROADS MINISTER ANDREW STONER:
You are making the same mistake Joe Tripodi made a few years ago: if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas!
The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.
DAVID BORGER:  I will have more to say on the outcome of that meeting shortly. Frankly, it is disgraceful that the shadow Minister for Roads is referring to the Mayor of Coffs Harbour as a dog in this Chamber. That is exactly what he said just now. It is absolutely disgraceful.



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