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Letter to the Editor – Worthless Promises

17/September/2021

Dear Editor

Worthless Promises

What’s a politician’s promise worth these days? Not much it seems.

And why do we bother with expensive Councillors when their scrutiny of important matters is virtually non-existent?

Many will recall mayoral candidate Nolan’s numerous assurances with respect to Port Hinchinbrook that, while like the whole region, he wanted the situation normalised, it would not be at the cost of other ratepayers.

However, at a special Council meeting on September 1, Councillors, at Mayor Nolan’s strident urging, voted to do just that, as they elected to accept the State’s offer of $6.3m and acquire the sewerage plant, numerous lots, plus the roads.

This was despite a list of risks in the report to Council nearly a page long and that Council’s solicitors had not yet reviewed the proposed agreement with the State.

Most of the costs will be borne by the Port Hinchinbrook residents, as it should be. 

Although at a hefty $3000 pa, it will still be considerably less than it would have otherwise been now that the Federal Government has now allegedly promised $6M, according to the Mayor, CEO Gott, and State Member Dametto. 

This Federal grant and the associated terms and conditions had yet, however, to be actually confirmed by Canberra. And we have all seen the lack of progress on the last promised contribution from the Federal Government in respect to the One Mile Creek dredging, well over 2 years ago. 

As the March 11, 2021, report to Council stated, “An indicative increase required in the general rate to fund depreciation for roads, stormwater, kerb and channel, major drainage structure, and water reticulation, operations, and maintenance, would be in the order of 0.5%.”

So, all ratepayers in the region are now going to see an ongoing increase in their general rates despite Nolan’s promise. 

And, of course, all these charges assume the construction costs come in on budget because, as the State and Federal Government contributions are fixed, ratepayers will absorb any overrun.

This increase in depreciation is despite CCRC’s zealous asset rationalisation programme, which has seen a myriad of community assets closed to reduce this expense.

Cr. Millwood suggested consideration be deferred. This was for a host of obvious reasons, including that it would be prudent to wait for the Federal Government’s offer to be put in writing, so that its exact terms and conditions were known, and that Council’s solicitors be given the opportunity to examine the whole proposal, and particularly the impact on the Conformed Deed given the liquidator the night before had threatened to revoke it.

And of course, would it not be sensible for the new CEO, who started just last week, review the proposal? Particularly as he will be the one to implement it.

Mayor Nolan then claimed that Council had signed up to a 30-day deal and could not defer consideration. This was false. In fact, there had been no Council resolution regarding this supposed 30-day deadline.

Amazingly, given the importance of this resolution, two Councillors did not ask a single question and two made short irrelevant statements / comments. 

Cr. Pervan, who was the only other councillor to ask penetrating questions, then voted to accept the offer along with Mayor Nolan, and Councillors Baines, Barnes, McLeod, and Tschui.

Remember these names when you receive your rates notices over coming years and elections come along! Cr Millwood was the only vote against.

And at last week’s ordinary Council meeting there was not a single follow-up query nor question on whether the Federal grant had yet been formally notified to Council.

You can only wonder why we spend nearly $1m per annum on Councillors when they appear to lack the ability to undertake even basic due diligence on behalf of ratepayers. After all, this was likely the most important resolution in the history of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.

Dominic Mobbs

Wongaling Beach

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