Councillors back Jack in stoush over motion
COUNCILLOR Greg Barnes was not shut down in this week's ordinary meeting of council, according to a number of fellow councillors.
One councillor described Cr Barnes' actions during the first meeting of the year as "aggressive”.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Cr Barnes excused himself citing illness after his motion to look into what he called "cherry-picking” at briefing meetings before development applications were lodged was not seconded by any other councillor and shut down by Mayor Jack Dempsey.
The NewsMail phoned each of the current Bundaberg councillors yesterday after the Division 5 councillor claimed Cr Dempsey was ready to quash the motion early to stop public debate.
Bill Trevor (Division 2), Helen Blackburn (Division 4), Scott Rowleson (Division 6) and Ross Sommerfeld (Division 7) all supported Cr Dempsey.
They said there was a time and place for everything and Tuesday's meeting was neither for Cr Barnes' motion.
Cr Blackburn said the prelodgement meeting policy was altered last year.
The change included giving the developers the opportunity to request a portfolio or divisional council to be present at the meetings.
"I absolutely believe we have an open and accountable council,” Cr Blackburn said.
"As council we operate very effectively as a team.
"When one person acts aggressively, it doesn't work.
"I don't think (Cr Barnes' motion) was necessary.”
She said there had been previous discussion with Cr Barnes about the policy review process and it was not something that should be brought up in a general meeting.
"Cr Barnes has been a councillor for 18 years,” she said.
"He should know the policy.
"There is no use acting aggressively to gain media attention.”
Cr Trevor said councillors needed to follow normal procedure.
"That's why I didn't support it,” he said.
Cr Trevor said he was happy with the current prelodgement meeting process.
"Greg is passionate about his division but a review of the policy should be done at the appropriate time,” he said.
"I have had no complaints about the current policy.”
Cr Sommerfeld, a three-term councillor who holds the planning and development portfolio, said the council was more open and accountable than ever.
"There have been significant changes in the last two years to make sure we are open and accountable,” he said.
"We all need to remember that no one else is bigger than anyone else in this process.”
Cr Rowleson said he had been asked why he didn't support the motion.
"For me it was simple. The motion was a late one and it lacked reasoning for it's urgency,” he said.
"I did not have ample time to understand what any sudden policy changes would look like when it came to implementation.”
Cr Rowleson said the matter was "purely a policy matter” that had been discussed during the yearly policy update.
"All councillors voted in favour of this policy and a suite of others last year and I am sure it will come before us again to consider any updates,” he said.
"Whilst every councillor is well within their rights to put a motion forward, it is also prudent that each councillor who votes in favour, or against it is comfortable with doing so. I was not, so I chose not to second the motion.”