What’s next for petition now it’s been tabled in parliament?

THE petition against Coffs Harbour City Council's proposed Cultural and Civic Space was tabled in parliament yesterday.

Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh literally placed the petition on a table in front of the Speaker, where three other petitions were also waiting.

He understands the Coffs Harbour petition will be debated on October 24 with roughly 30 minutes set aside to discuss the matter.

"From the petition debates I've seen and sat through the discussion is quite wide reaching and can be quite philosophical," Mr Singh said.

"Debate could be around council's fiscal responsibilities through to a discussion about the arts in general."

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He says he is obliged to table the petition once it receives 10,000 signatures. It currently has 13,000 and counting with the group Citizens Voice taking signatures right up until the day it is debated.

Marian Partos, Ann Leonard, former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, Fran Stevenson and Steve Gooley with the petition to halt the Cultural and Civic Space.
Marian Partos, Ann Leonard, former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, Fran Stevenson and Steve Gooley with the petition to halt the Cultural and Civic Space.

The petition is calling for a halt to the controversial $76.5m CBD development which will include a regional gallery, library, museum, meeting rooms and cafe along with council offices. It's the council office space and lack of performing arts centre that has attracted much of the opposition.

"We have reached 13,000 signatures in just two-and-a-half weeks and our next goal is 15,000 and beyond that 20,000 signatures," a spokesperson from Citizens Voice said.

"Without an overwhelming call from community it is obvious the mayor and her supporters will continue to walk over the dreams and aspirations of those who voted them into office."

Mayor Denise Knight says community groups are well within their rights to organise petitions but she is not concerned that it will change the outcome.

"I'm not worried about the petition at all. This is probably one of the most highly scrutinised processes I've been a part of," she said.

Mr Singh says that from a legal perspective the petition is unlikely to change the outcome.

"The debate (in NSW Parliament) won't change the rules or laws. What council is proposing is lawful and it's within their legal rights to do, but from a representation point of view it lists people's concerns and can make people sit up and take notice."



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