Cr George Cecato was one of the five who voted against Cr Sally Townley's motion to transfer ownership of the land at Myuna Place.
Cr George Cecato was one of the five who voted against Cr Sally Townley's motion to transfer ownership of the land at Myuna Place. Trevor Veale

Kulai claim politically motivated says Cr Cecato

ONE of the Coffs Harbour City councillors who voted against transferring land to the Kulai Preschool said the matter should never have been raised in council.

Cr George Cecato was one of the five who voted against Cr Sally Townley's motion to transfer ownership of the land at Myuna Place to the Kulai Preschool Aboriginal Corporation.

"It should never have come to council - it was purely politically motivated - perhaps to build a profile before a Federal election," he said.

Cr Sally Townley raised the motion and says it's in line with council's property strategy which states it will review its childcare centre land holdings, with a view to considering divestment if appropriate.

"So the review, which Cr Cecato endorsed, is directly in line with a stated council objective," she said, adding that councillors voted unanimously to investigate the land transfer at their August 9 meeting.

"Cr Cecato obviously didn't think it political at the time."

In the lead up to Thursday night's vote council staff prepared a report on the matter coming to the conclusion that it would: 'set an undesirable precedent for the transfer of public property into private hands, and would not be in the financial and long term interests of ratepayers.'

Cr Paul Amos voted against the motion as he agreed it would set a dangerous precedent and feared a potential 'repurposing' of the land in the future.

"My main concern, as councillor Amos quite correctly said, was that it would set a precedent," Cr Cecato said.

"I've personally got a great amount of respect and appreciation for what Kulai does and in my own personal business have always supported them."

In arguing her case Cr Townley said the land on which the preschool sits, cost council just $1 and they haven't had to spend a cent on it during its 48 years of operation.

"That one dollar is just a token price - there's always far more behind that - it's not a true representation of what happened," Cr Cecato said.

Along with councillors Cecato and Amos, Denise Knight, Michael Adendorff and Keith Rhoades voted against the transfer of the land outnumbering councillors Sally Townley, Tegan Swan and John Arkan.

Kulai preschool director Julie Carey says the vote shows that council doesn't trust the corporation to continue operating the centre as a preschool.

"That they can't trust us is not a good enough reason. One way around this, and councillors know this, to prevent us from changing the purpose of the land in 10 years time would be to write a condition into any transfer schedule.

"I think their views are very outdated."



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