Minister asked to stall project
THIS letter writer has appealed to the Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock to stall the Cultural and Civic Space until the next elections which have been postponed due to Covid-19.
IT is possible that the "silent majority" of Coffs Harbour ratepayers are unaware that the local council elections scheduled for next month have been postponed because of the Covid-19 emergency.
All Councils have been thereby granted a 12-month extension of their term but seemingly without guidance or advice from the Minister for Local Government.
I have appealed to Minister Hancock through the office of our local member to place a moratorium on the Cultural and Civic Project in Gordon Street until we have had the opportunity of expressing our will in a new election of Councillors.
I referred to the precedent used when parliament is dissolved that ensures the government of the day acts in caretaker role until the result of the new poll is declared.
In her reply, the Minister stated "caretaker arrangements do not take effect until four weeks before an election." and (the Council) "are the governing body elected to make decisions on behalf of the community about allocating public resources to projects such as this. I am not empowered to stop the project from proceeding. In the long term, Council will remain to be accountable to its community for its decision to proceed with the CCS project."
Whatever one's view on the merits or otherwise of this project, it is obvious that the community is deeply divided.
Appeals to the Mayor and her three supporting councillors, as well as attempts by some of those Councillors themselves to slow this project or conduct a poll to gauge its support, have been to no avail.
A poll delayed is democracy denied. Let's restore our democracy by calling on the State Government to freeze all major projects and council rates until the next election now scheduled for September 4, 2021.