Time for ERA to honour commitments: Greens

GREENS Councillor Gabi Harding is calling on the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association Councillors to meet the commitments they made to voters at the last election.

“The start of 2014 is an ideal opportunity for the ERA Councillors to begin living up to the promises they made when they were elected in 2012. On their performance to date, the community is entitled to feel very let down,” Harding said.

“For example, after promising 'true representation' and 'transparency, accountability and listening to the community', ERA councillors have chosen to ignore community views on key issues such as the display of guns at Huntfest.

“When council considered the guns issue in December 2013, the ERA councillors not only disregarded the views of the majority of correspondents to council who wanted a no vote or at least more time for consultation, they also did exactly what they have accused previous councils of doing: showed contempt for the community by refusing to engage in any debate or discussion at all.

“After promising a monthly newsletter, the ERA's website says its latest newsletter is from April 2013. Not much accountability there.

“We are only half way through the current local government term. I call on the ERA Councillors to live up to their commitments and provide the Eurobodalla community with the representation it deserves.”

Deputy mayor Neil Burnside who ran for election on the ERA ticket hit back at Harding’s accusations.

“Firstly, support for the hiring of the Leisure Centre in Narooma to the organisers of HuntFest was made by the newly elected council in late 2012,” he said.

“All councillors, bar Gabi Harding, supported the application.

“Organisers at that time, on the recommendation of Council staff, didn't include the display of weapons in their application.

“After the inaugural 2013 event it was clear from the feedback the organisers received that an event about hunting that didn't include guns would attract little return visitation, and they asked that their application be amended to include guns and other displays.

“All councillors received a number of submissions in letter and email form from supporters and opponents of the event. A number of the opponents expressed their opposition to hunting, instead of the event.”

“We have been accused of not listening to the community, and lacking transparency and accountability.

“I reject this imputation vehemently. The discussion about HuntFest late last year lasted longer than the Federal election campaign a few months earlier.

“All councillors fielded enquiries from interested parties. Debate on the issue, including opportunities for members of the public to put their views, lasted three hours in the chambers and I challenge anyone to suggest any issue relating to event that couldn't be aired in that time.

Burnside went on to say: “ERA Councillors have a policy that we will not support the banning of any activity that our community wishes to partake in, as long as it is legal and doesn't hurt anyone.

“This policy in entirely consistent with our foundations as a group opposing the Shire LEP, which was, essentially, about the rights of individuals to get on with their life without the interference of government.”