Sultana defends his stance on Rally sponsorship vote

Cr Mark Sultana is in favour of Coffs Harbour City Council supporting Rally Australia but not for years where he knows little detail about what is planned in the event.
Cr Mark Sultana is in favour of Coffs Harbour City Council supporting Rally Australia but not for years where he knows little detail about what is planned in the event. Trevor Veale

COFFS Harbour councillor Mark Sultana said he's all for Rally Australia being held on the Coffs Coast. He just doesn't want to give away money without knowing what it's for.

Cr Sultana said there were three parts to the motion but he said he could only agree to two of the points.

He said he asked for an amendment, removing point three from the original motion. A request that didn't receive enough support from fellow councillors.

"I gave Keith Rhoades and the mayor every opportunity to change it. They said no and I'm sorry to say but I feel their egos got the better of them and as a result we ended up with a 4-2 vote and no rally," he said.

The sticking point for Cr Sultana was being asked to vote in favour of delegating authority to council's general manager Steve McGrath to execute a sponsorship and hire agreement for 2017 between Coffs Harbour City Council and Rally Australia.

While being more than happy to do so for this year's rally, Cr Sultana said giving permission to hand over sponsorship for next year's event was a step too far in his opinion.

"The 2017 rally is yet to be organised, yet to be planned. We don't know if there's a special stage, we don't know what tracks they're using. We know nothing about the 2017 rally," Cr Sultana explained.

"I cannot support spending a large sum of money, handing money over to this organisation not knowing exactly how we are going to use these funds.

"If I had some more information about 2017 then it wouldn't be a problem.

"For this year, any person can tell you that it's going to be a wonderful event. We're having the special stages down at the Jetty, it's going to go off. It's the last round of the year, everyone is hopefully going to stay on and party in Coffs Harbour. We're going to have an excellent rally.

"But we don't know about 2017 yet and I just think that without any information about it we cannot make that decision."

Cr Sultana called innuendo that he was part of a block of four with fellow councillors Sally Townley, Nan Cowling and John Arkan "a load of rubbish" and added he doesn't have a problem with a perceived conflict of interest with council's general manager holding a seat on the Rally Australia board.

He said that that next week's rescission motion wouldn't even be going ahead if it wasn't for him supporting it.

"As it turns out at the end of the night Keith (Rhoades) came to me and asked 'are you willing to sign this rescission motion' and I said you know that I'm going to sign the rescission motion as long as you take out point three," he said.

"Had I have not signed that rescission motion there wouldn't be a rally because the councillors who were away cannot vote on it because they weren't at the meeting.

"I actually thought lucky I signed it or we wouldn't have a rally."

Cr Sultana said he intends to vote in favour of providing sponsorship for 2016 when the issue is discussed at the council meeting.

When asked if the motion is put to council with the clause that bothers him still in it, Cr Sultana said he'd stick to his original stance.

"If it's still there, I'm going to vote against it," he said.

Topics:  coffs harbour coffs harbour city council denise knight george cecato keith rhoades mark sultana rally australia world rally championship wrc

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