Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bob Hawkins

Huon Valley Guessing Games: It’s time to act, Mr Gutwein

*Pic: from Peter Gutwein’s website HERE

Peter Gutwein in TT Media: Huon Valley Council gets final chance to improve governance. And read the Report …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: So the Huon Valley Council is not going to be dismissed. I didn’t think the minister had the bottle to give our valley a brand new start, and it looks like it’s proving to be so. Haven’t heard the details of Gutwein’s statement yet, but I’m hoping it deals with all the more controversial issues, among them: the Cygnet Caravan Park; the long-ignored broken asbestos in Cygnet Town Hall; a close analysis of all factors involved in the appearance of an unapproved and illegal jetty at Franklin; allegedly buried asbestos on the Franklin waterfront; a forensic assessment (matched with invoices) of all HVC credit card statements (not just the mayors’ and the GMs’) these past 15 years . . . I’m hoping the minister’s decision also includes a squeaky clean independent actuary, or similar, to do the investigating.

The Supreme Court’s decision on the Glenorchy Council wrangle offers nothing to suggest there are grounds to disqualify the board of inquiry that Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein ordered into that council. Down in the Huon Valley, where Gutwein last September also felt moved to inquire into its council’s “dysfunction”, the board’s final report is believed to be with the minister and, at time of writing, no application has been made to a court to object to the process of that inquiry. So, it should be reasonable to think that a decision on the future of Huon Valley Council is due any day soon.

With the worst of Gutwein’s smoke-and-mirrors balanced budget behind him, and the forestry scene apparently relatively quiet, one would think the minister might have a bit of time to spare to focus his mind on his niggling local-government problems.

What’s in the detail of the final report of the board of inquiry is supposed to be confidential. But, in the nature of our sieve-like political environment, and what with the way stuff has been leaking out of HVC’s council chambers in Huonville — particularly to the partisan (anti-mayor) 7HOFM radio presenter and valley resident Mick Newell — it’s likely there are lots of people supposed to be outside of the loop who know what’s in it.

That is, of course, everyone except the wider Huon Valley community, many of whom are growing impatient to see the Huon shemozzle brought to a conclusion.

If Gutwein wanted a firsthand insight into just how dysfunctional HVC is, he should have been at its ordinary meeting last month (May 25). It got off to an embarrassing start: after the gallery was told a video of council’s branding project would be shown, general manager Simone Watson just couldn’t get it going. After a few attempts, and a mumbled something about “NBN”, the video was abandoned and it was on with the meeting proper.

You can listen to the audio of the meeting at https://soundcloud.com/huonvc — it helps to have the meeting’s draft minutes also open on your screen. The volume is lousy, but I’m told computer nerds know how to beef it up. To make better sense of the audio, it helps to have the meeting’s draft minutes also open on your screen.

Sections of the audio are quite entertaining, although the climax — the sound of the door slamming as ex-Cr Ken Studley, who, seconds before, had melodramatically announced his resignation, exited the council chamber — comes far too early. That slamming door is the loudest sound on the entire audio, and that includes an outburst of derisory guffaws from the public gallery at something Deputy Mayor Ian Paul has to say.

(Studley’s replacement on council, announced on June 8 by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, is James Lange, an accountant/tax professional, who was on Wilson’s Heart of the Huon ticket at the October 2014 election. If Gutwein decides to sack the council before the June meeting, Lange could become the only HVC elected councillor never to take his seat.)

Despite the best efforts of Mayor Peter Coad in the chair, and a get-out opportunity offered by Cr Liz Smith, the Heart of the Huon team again ignored good sense and doggedly chose to indulge in another travesty of logic. They did so by insisting on a motion by Cr Pav Ruzicka — a motion that made a mockery of a council resolution in April last year — that indicated HVC would be willing to consider negotiating a municipal “boundary adjustment” that would nick a large slice of Kingborough Council’s property (Margate, all territory south of it down the Channel, plus Bruny Island — see http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/huon-waits-on-the-real-umpires-call/show_comments/). Thus was conjured a fantastical vision of a hugely expanded Huon Valley municipality with a barely expanded rates income — not that such a situation should stand in the way of a region that is long accustomed to surviving on state and federal handouts.

The Ruzicka motion read: That: a) Council notes it has received the report on the review of boundary adjustments and their economic implications from Bruce Felmingham Consulting. b) Council immediately writes to State Government and Kingborough Council to begin discussions around the M1 option as highlighted in the report. c) Council immediately begins work on public consultation. d) Public consultation begins as of 1 July 2016 and that during that process option M1 be referred to as the Huon D’Entrecasteaux Option. (Until the May meeting, the public knew nothing about the Felmingham report, and they still don’t.)

The Heart can’t be serious that such an idea could become reality. But the eccentricity of the motion might be interpreted by some as a defiant illustration that, by suggesting the utterly ridiculous, they will get their message across that, for all the Hodgman Government’s talk of amalgamation and resource-sharing, these Deep Southern luddists want their council to remain just as it is — and, more importantly, they want to go on running it just the way it has been since the well-intentioned, disastrous amalgamation of three Huon councils back in 1993.

Smith’s proposed amendment — clearly an attempt to introduce a bit of realism — offered co-operation from HVC in harmony with the stated aims of Minister Gutwein to get a dialogue going in southern Tasmania about the potential for local government reform (maybe mergers, at least resource-sharing).

Her amendment read: a) That council notes that, in response to the direction of motion 13.005/15 passed by council in April 2015, an “in confidence – working document” titled “Potential Merger Options for Huon Valley Council 2015” has been received and was considered at a council workshop on April 5. b) That council writes to the State Government and Kingborough Council to continue with discussions around local government reform. c) That the mayor makes a public announcement of the intention of the Huon Valley Council to enter into these discussions.

This thoughtful option from one of council’s three non-majority members didn’t wash with the Heart. Why not? Well, for a start, it was put up by a Green (which is also the ridiculous way the Heart view Mayor Peter Coad). Down went Smith’s amendment, 5-3 — Coad, Smith and Greens Party Cr Ian Mackintosh supporting it. Then Ruzicka’s possibly decoy motion was passed by a similar vote.

That irrational HVC decision was, I believe, yet another demonstration of just how resistant HVC’s management and the controlling Heart group are to merger talk or any kind of outside interference in local government in the Huon.

Two days earlier, Kingborough Council, apparently frustrated at the lack of co-operation from the Huon, had resolved to ask Gutwein to try to get HVC to the negotiating table to discuss a resource-sharing feasibility study. Cr Mike Wilson, who attended the Kingborough meeting, said, at HVC’s May 25 meeting, that he was “very disappointed” with Kingborough’s “inappropriate” resolution. He asked the mayor to write to Kingborough to say HVC was not happy about it. Coad said he would be willing to do so subject to a formal resolution of the full council at a future meeting.

During “questions without notice”, Coad asked General Manager Simone Watson if she would commit to seeking council approval in advance before commissioning future legal reports. Watson took his question on notice. Coad’s question suggests that council’s legal responses to board-of-inquiry reports earlier this year were commissioned by the GM under delegated authority, those reports presumably being approved retrospectively (presumably by the Heart team members) in closed-council sessions. Heart of the Huon councillors, not surprisingly, seem satisfied with the GM’s vast “delegated-authority” powers.

Councillors for years under the chairmanship of former mayor Robert Armstrong (now an elected, hugely remunerated, member of the Tasmanian parliamentary rest home known as the Legislative Council) delegated vast amounts of authority to general managers — to such an extent that HVC has long been a bastion of secrecy with almost no avenues available to electors to inquire into its affairs. That situation has barely changed since Coad became mayor despite his efforts to reduce council opacity.

In another question, Coad sought the support of the GM and councillors for a police investigation into the leaking of council’s first response to the BoI’s first report to Gutwein in February. That report from a leading Hobart legal firm ended up in the hands of 7HOFM’s Newell. (Coad argues that if confidential legal reports to council can leak out to easily, so can details of vital information relating to tenders. We would want any inside tendering going on in the valley, would we?)

Coad asked councillors to state their positions on a police inquiry. Paul evoked derisory guffaws from the public gallery (the mayor instantly calling for order) by, seemingly disingenuously, asking: “Not sure where you are going with this . . .” Paul’s further comments were almost entirely inaudible. (The combination of his small voice and his seeming reluctance to speak directly into the microphone often renders what he is saying indecipherable.)

Wilson, saying he didn’t have a problem supporting the mayor’s request, demanded that councillors should see the evidence the mayor had about the document having been leaked. Coad said he had the evidence, in writing, from 7HOFM.

Ruzicka’s response: “Nuh, not answering your question.” Crs Lydia Eastley, Bruce Heron, Mackintosh and Smith said they would back an investigation.

The May 25 meeting amounted to yet another example of what is basically wrong with HVC today. Ever since the October 2014 election, it has appeared that the Heart team, with its guaranteed majority, was never going to give a fair go to a mayor they obviously didn’t want.

And, ever since Coad shocked the political machine that has run council for years by taking the mayor’s seat away from the ruling group, Wilson has behaved more like a de facto mayor than a downtable councillor, and never has stopped overtly campaigning for an election that he seems to have been thinking was in the offing despite the next official election date being October 2018.

Even in last week’s Huon Valley News (June 8) he was still campaigning, telling the electorate in a ‘Good News Week’ advertisement that “Huon Valley Council has the second lowest average rate per rateable valuation in Tasmania at $1020 per anum (sic). Compare this to our neighbours, Kingborough Council, at an average $1,247.” Not surprising considering property values in Kingborough are so much higher. Statistics can be so irritatingly deceptive. Reminds me of something attributed to Disraeli, or was it Mark Twain?

(Wilson’s reference to HVC’s wage bill in the same advertisement deserves a separate story to explain just how these figures were arrived at. Surely that “reduced” wage bill doesn’t have something to do with HVC handing over the Esperance Multi Purpose Health Centre to Elder Care? How about some dates, Cr Wilson? And someone from over the range tells me HVC has negotiated, through enterprise bargaining, a “much more generous wage increase” than Kingborough Council. That may be fine for staff, but it might also help explain the vicious Australian Services Union media attack earlier this year, based on incorrect information, on Mayor Coad.)

Should there ever be an academic assessment of why HVC is the way it is, and why the council has appeared publicly to be bordering on chaos these past 18 months, it would be remiss if it failed to ask a lot of probing questions of both council management and members of the Heart group.

Coad, when asked, made no secret of the fact that his predecessor, Armstrong MLC, did not congratulate him on his successful 2014 mayoral campaign. Even before that election, Wilson was firing salvos at Coad for having the temerity to question HVC’s financial position — and then went on to sporadically maintain his attack, in the council chamber, through local media and, more recently, specifically through 7HOFM.

As mayor of a municipality that comprises a large lump of the LegCo seat of Huon, Coad didn’t get an invitation to the opening of Armstrong’s Huonville electorate office in March last year, yet Deputy Mayor Paul did. HVC’s former mayor doesn’t seem particularly adept at managing diplomatic niceties.

As to Coad and relations with council management, who knows what has gone on behind the scenes? But it did become fairly evident early that relations between him and GM Watson were strained. Publicly, on at least a couple of occasions, it has been apparent that the mayor, in carrying out his civic duties, seemed to have been provided with inadequate briefing notes for functions at which he was required to speak. And, last year, it became evident that Coad had been excluded from the loop during the secret manoeuvring that culminated in the privatisation of Geeveston Town Hall soon after Forestry Tasmania terminated its lease of the publicly owned building.

(There’s almost certainly someone out there in the Huon Valley, probably in the Geeveston area, who would like to write the full story about the Geeveston Town Hall, and how it has been manoeuvred out of reach of the control of the people who own it, the people of Geeveston.)

But the atmosphere in recent weeks has changed. Open hostility towards Coad seems to have been replaced by a near eerie silence. After my last ‘Guessing Games’, there were no comments from usually vocal supporters of HVC management and the Heart, such as council’s former PR man Ben Lohberger, and the ‘Mouses’ (Mickey and Miss Minnie). All have been strangely quiet.

Even Mike Wilson — since his conversation with 7HOFM’s Newell after the shock jock idly wondered if a councillor down Huon way might call in for a chat — has been relatively restrained. Bearing in mind the recommendations of the BoI to which he is privy, has Wilson decided to let up on the flak in the hope that Gutwein will not plump for the board’s recommendation that the council be put in administration.

And, at the May HVC meeting,Heart councillors generally performed in respectful tones, even when their words were not exactly friendly to the chair. That was indeed a pleasant change considering the main game ever since Coad’s election seems to have been to try to discredit and get rid of him. Unlikely, maybe, but are the Heart now hoping the minister won’t sack them and that the council will be allowed to soldier on with Coad in the mayor’s chair until the 2018 election?

An interesting sidelight to the May meeting was how councillors weren’t getting their mouths near to the mikes (as they did when council was first recorded in March). It was almost as if some were a bit apprehensive about those mikes, maybe worried if they said something out of order it would come across far too loud and clear to curious audio listeners. I think, now that council has managed to put together a recording system, it should be obligatory for speakers to pull over the mikes.

Another interesting moment was when Mayor Coad read a prepared statement in response to Studley’s question on notice about what Coad would describe as “procedural fairness”.

The mayor, it turned out, was not impressed by Studley’s probing of councillors to see whether they thought the Gutwein board of inquiry had conducted itself in a proper manner. After Wilson’s public threat about taking legal action over the BoI’s conduct, it looked like a fishing expedition by Studley to glean evidence that the board had been remiss in its performance. Studley’s question read:

My question does not seek to enquire about the particulars of any complaint or response a councillor or the Mayor or Staff may have been involved in, it is to simply ask the Mayor and Councillors and the GM — have you been provided with a copy of every complaint (submissions to the BoI) and accompanying information in line with the procedures outlined on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website? or were you just given a summarised 1 or 2 line statement to respond to?

Coad, inter alia, had this to say:

Everyone is aware that the general manager has engaged two legal firms to prepare responses on behalf of council to the BoI findings and recommendations. We are not able to discuss either of those documents . . . as we remain bound to keep them confidential.

A . . . substantial amount of ratepayers’ money has already been spent, responding to the BoI’s two reports, by the council.

Cr Studley’s question dealing with procedural fairness . . . aims to draw out information from individuals in what appears to be an attempt to draw on personal individual experiences on their dealings with the BOI and, therefore, is not a valid question and should not be dealt with by this council. Should any individual councillor believe that they have been dealt with inappropriately by the BoI, then that individual has the right to seek their own private legal advice . . .

I take issue . . . for two reasons. One goes to procedure, and the other to substance . . . his [Studley’s] question does not relate to council business that should be dealt with in a council meeting. It is a question directed at individuals seeking their personal experience of the BoI process. For that reason, I do not think it is a valid question relating to council business and it should not be regarded as such.

I believe that we have now reached the point where our own interests as individuals are significantly diverging from those of the council as a public authority responsible for the expenditure of ratepayers’ money.

It concerns me greatly that some members of council continue to use this forum, and council’s resources, to defend what are now clearly their own personal interests. If individual councillors feel aggrieved . . . their recourse is to seek their own legal advice at their expense . . .

I would . . . like it . . . on the public record that I am strongly opposed to any more council resources and time being spent on responding to the BoI report or the Minister’s proposed decision . . . we should respectfully await the Minister’s decision and let the process run its course. We should not take steps as a council to undermine the process . . .

Coad then invited all councillors and the GM to respond to Studley’s two-part question.

The responses: Paul — “no” and “some”; Wilson: “no” and “no”; Mackintosh — “. . . I’ve found the material adequate throughout the process, importantly, we’ve all had multiple opportunities to respond and to question findings, dispute recommendations and ask for more information. At all times, the board has been open and responsive to my concerns when I’ve raised them.”; Ruzicka — “no” and “no”; Eastley — “no” and “I only received a summary”; Smith — “This is not an appropriate question for councillors to answer in a council meeting”; Heron — “no” and “no”. Very interesting responses.

Worth observing is that it was not until the second BoI confidential report went to council for responses that anyone started to complain openly about the BoI’s modus operandi. Surely they didn’t start complaining because of the findings in that report!

Mind you, Mayor Coad has been relatively glowing in his response to the BoI report. Could it be because its recommendations are to his liking? It is known that he believes council to be dysfunctional and that the way out of its problems is for an administrator (in Local Government Act parlance, a “commissioner”) to be installed.

While Studley’s questions, and Heart councillor responses to it, might indicate displeasure with the way the board has gone about the inquiry, Coad, Smith and Mackintosh seem quite happy with how they have been dealt with.

Whether or not Minister Gutwein will agree with Coad’s view is yet to be revealed. A June 6 letter Gutwein sent to a valley ratepayer shows that he’s still feeling his way towards a decision. The most interesting part of that letter reads: Regarding the timeframe for making my decision, I note your desire for action on the board of inquiry’s report as soon as possible. While I am mindful of the need to provide certainty to the Huon Valley community as soon as possible, as you may be aware the board of inquiry is being conducted in accordance with the statutory process set out under the Local Government Act 1993. This process requires that certain procedural steps are followed. This includes observing the rules of procedural fairness and providing councillors with the opportunity to make submissions on the board’s findings and recommendations. It is vital that these steps are followed before I make a decision . . .

As Mackintosh told the May meeting, he was more interested in the wording of the laws under which the board of inquiry was operating than what was on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website.

So, it’s back to asking, how much longer must we wait for Gutwein to act? The following may have nothing to do with the BoI report, but it is of interest. Some months ago, Paul Harriss, with barely so much as a “Seeya”, shucked off his forestry portfolio and left parliament: one day he was a government minister, the next he was spending time with his family. So was that the last time we would see Harriss playing a role in the affairs of state?

Today, there is talk in the valley that Harriss is a player in moves afoot down Dover and Southport way. Words bouncing around include “woodchips”, “pulp mill”, “exports” . . . It all sounds unlikely to me, but just imagine that there is substance to them. That could present the Hodgman Government with an interesting dilemma: would a Deep South project be easier to achieve (or stymie) if Huon Valley Council were still run by a general manager and an elected council, or by an administrator?

I can’t see that it would matter much which way. But I’ve learnt in my decade in Tasmania that pie-in-the-sky ideas gestate in mysterious ways — so, if the rumours do, in fact, have legs, the manner in which our dysfunctional Huon Valley Council is run could be integral to those in authority getting the result they want. Hence, we could have a case of the Minister for Local Government (and Forestry, and Treasury) playing for time.— Bob Hawkins

Bob Hawkins has been covering Huon Valley Council for Tasmanian Times for seven years. He is a friend of Cr Smith, and an admirer of Mayor Coad for doggedly trying to bring reason to a dysfunctional council.

• Geoffrey Swan in Comments: Being a “nerd” I have managed to enhance the poor HVC audio recording and I can advise Cr Paul’s almost indecipherable comments are as follows, approx 38 minutes in …

• John Powell in Comments: The decision by Minister Gutwein says everything that needs to be said about the Hodgman Govt, an inept fibber in Harriss, ditto Brooks, and now a gutless obfuscating Whiner. A bit more to come on Ferguson I suspect. Almost makes Bryan Green look clean ….. oh but then again!

• Robin Charles Halton in Comments: Local government minister Gutwein blew it badly for not sacking the Huon valley Council as Mayor Coad correctly suggested. I know a few of these individuals from the past and the hatred and stirring among them will continue, mediation wont help, differences are ingrained and permanent reminders of their individual personality traits with much entrenched indifference between camps within the council. Fresh elections are the only way to go, keep driving that objective Mayor Coad.

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Swan

    June 21, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Thanks Bob for clarity… truth must prevail.

    And Miles.. asbestos is nothing to gamble with so thanks for your comments. I am personally aware of my friend taking a sample of asbestos in a ziploc bag into HVC following the astounding 4am demolition in Franklin… he was simply ignored and the cover up has continued ever since… or will it finally be revealed!!

    Welcome Mickey to the real world of debate and opinion.. good to have you on board… even if you do reside in Anaheim. I was in Disney World (not Land – Orlando) only recently and I must admit I did spare a thought for you when I saw Mickey and Minnie with their ridiculous big ears…

    Troubled however over your criticism of Trish.. all that is missing in her intelligent commentary is some paragraph breaks.. not terribly important in blog style writing as spaces count in number of words we can post.

    I urge you to accept the “poor” layout and read Trish’s comments – they are profound and meaningful in this debate… and having followed Trish’s views in the past I am 100% certain they are 100% factual and need to be taken seriously.

    And Mickey.. want to know the biggest dilemma of all.. after all my efforts, my research, my preparation of a proposal for the sealing of Lonnavale Road.. lobbying to HVC…NOT ONE local neighbour showed any interest in supporting this proposal to council.. and to quote one neighbour..who will remain anonymous..

    “We are in two minds, seal the road and more people will come, we moved here to be away from busy roads etc and have driven this unsealed road now for 30 years so we really don’t mind it being gravel. So it is not something we are actively pursuing to happen.”

    …but I will not give up…times they are a changing and Mayor Coad is leading the way.

  2. Bob Hawkins

    June 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    My understanding is that the asbestos in question at Cygnet Town Hall was “broken” and had been for years. Its presence I am told was brought to the attention of council management several years ago. Nothing was done.

    Mayor Coad saw it with his own eyes last year and requested that something be done about it. Remedial action was taken some time after that.

    Under the Local Government Act, mayors cannot instruct management to do anything “operational”; they can only bring an issue to management’s attention. My belief is that “operational”, a sensitive word in LG-speak, has taken on much greater significance at HVC since November 2014.

  3. Miles From The Huon

    June 20, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    I had thought that all asbestos had the potential to be dangerous. Maybe Tasmanian asbestos is ‘World class’ and therfore not as dangerous as mainland asbestos.
    The following is from https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/sites/asbestos/files/FAQs_for_website_August_2014.pdf
    Is all asbestos dangerous?
    Scientific and medical evidence suggests that simply living in a building that contains asbestos is not dangerous as long as the asbestos product is in good condition; that is undamaged and undisturbed. Asbestos cement sheeting (and other non-friable asbestos) do not pose an increased health risk as long as the products are in good condition, well maintained and are not disturbed or damaged. However, if the products
    become damaged or they start to deteriorate, this increases the likelihood that asbestos fibres may become airborne and it is advisable to have them stabilised and removed. Visually inspect the materials from time to time for deterioration and damage.
    The question is, was the alleged asbestos well maintained, given councils inaction on a raft of issues I think not.

  4. Mickey Mouse

    June 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

    #29 Trish, extremely difficult to read, try using some paragraphs and construct sentences then I will read again.

    Perhaps if councilor smith (“has a town planning degree amongst other things!”) wants to be involved in planning (operational) she should apply for role as planner otherwise from her role as a councillor it’s her role to approve or reject not suggest alternate locations of a shed.

    The BOI seemed to point to a good fiscal position yet you seem to know more. If the council is depreciating its assets and can fund their replacement under the general rate then how is that “not really being sustainable”. Surely if I have a two bedroom house valued at say $400k and want to replace that with a five bedroom house for $700k the extra money I need to find should come from elsewhere not the depreciation. Likewise to upgrade a dirt road to bitumen the amount council depreciate for replacing the dirt road with dirt would be less than the amount required to seal it would it not? The extra money to install the bitumen needs to come from elsewhere like grants or additional allocations.

    Huon must have hundreds of km of dirt roads that would cost millions to bitumen seal. I challenge you to find a council that doesn’t use grants to fund specific upgrades like bitumen sealing of dirt roads. Get back to me on this one please Trish.

    I have asbestos in my mothers house, had it inspected and is low hazard asbestos. Even if damaged it is low hazard rate. (The assessor said you are more likely to be harmed by fibres from MDF than this type of asbestos). Do you know what this asbestos in the cygnet hall is? If the council didn’t know (after they were contacted by residents) then they deserve a kicking but I would be checking this first Trish before jumping up and down.

    The jetty issue was discussed in the BOI report and if you know more you should have put it forward. Too late to whinge now.

    Are the premises leased for the children’s and medical centres? The cygnet med centre was built on council land and I know the Dover childcare is the old tennis club building. Better check that again Trish.

    Where did I say the minister should sack the GM or mayor? I just suggested they fall on their swords i.e. resign.

    The mayor was in the Mercury over the weekend and indicated he will consider his future or like phrasing. In other words he is weighing up going the hard yards or fleeing the sinking ship he sailed into the iceberg.

    Just three weeks from a federal election the council is more interested in arguing amongst itself than securing funding for projects in the Huon. (Looks like Geoffrey will have to wait a bit longer for his road to be bitumen sealed unless council spend its rate payer money to upgrade it.) Hope ex Cr Studley gets his funding for the feasibility study for his trail plans, somebody having a crack for the Huon.

  5. Trish Kyne

    June 20, 2016 at 4:54 am

    #26 Mickey: It appears that a lot of power was delegated to the GM’s position by previous councils. The GM’s position manages the operational issues, and the councillors the strategic issues. The mayor has no say in operational issues. So councillors vote on e.g. planning applications at the end of a process they’ve had no part in. I believe there should be a mechanism to include councillors in negotiations that have the potential to be contentious.
    Council rates barely cover the operational costs of the council; so in effect treading water. In order to get e.g. roads upgraded council is reliant on grants and special state and federal funding. That’s not really being sustainable. That’s going cap in hand and begging for help. Large jobs may have monies allocated in the budget over a 5 or 10 year plan before a job can be actually be done.
    Observing all councillors in action there is a major issue with the bloc voting that concerns many in the gallery. An example that has stuck with me was an application for a shed to be erected on a property that would put the shed in front of a new house on the adjoining block. Cr Smith (who has a town planning degree amongst other things) pointed out the shed site would block the sun to the new house as well as the view. She suggested the shed be moved away from the fence line to satisfy the requirements of both home owners (space was not an issue). Cr Smith was voted down with the vocal HotH councillor stating that he had supreme confidence in the council employee’s decision. This is using bloc power to point score at the expense of the homeowners. This has nothing to do with being Green, and everything to do with common sense. How would you like a shed in front of your new home?
    The issue with the Franklin Jetty was not the lapse of the first application because the gentleman died. The issue was the development going ahead, in the absence of a new application. Despite Franklin residents notifying the council when work commenced, the project continued. Cr Wilson maintained he had nothing to do with it at all until the retrospective approval for application came before council; at which time he left the chambers through the vote ( a silent acknowledgement of involvement).
    Several Cygnet residents contacted council about the asbestos in the hall. They were ignored. Council (as in the operational side of council) did not place warning signs or any controls to alert the public to the asbestos. Community events continued in the hall – without any safety precautions (hard to believe in this day and age). Someone contacted the mayor. How could he know the extent of the asbestos problem in the absence of any reports? He has no operational control. He does not receive reports about operational issues. All he could do was bring the seriousness of the issue to the GM’s attention. He could not organise any council workers or materials to go and do the job. What happened in the intervening 3 weeks is anyone’s guess. . Historically, in my short lifetime here, the Franklin residents were petitioning council to do something about the asbestos in the grandstand. They were ignored. As the residents became more vocal, the outcome was unexpected. Council workers descended in the middle of the night (no safety gear) and the grandstand was knocked down and carted away on open trucks. There is photographic evidence of this.
    I understand the medical centres and children’s centres are leased and run separately from council, with an appearance of being viable entities until the HVC contractual fees are added to the bottom line. If premises are leased, how can their FTE be counted as council staff?
    The general manager’s position can only be terminated by the council, or an administrator. Neither the Minister nor Director for Local Government (LG) can sack the general manager.
    Why would the mayor resign, when he has been maligned and misrepresented to the public? The minister has actually made the mayor’s position almost untenable when you look closely at the directives. Any mediation that is not conducted by an independent body will just hand the HotH group what they have been campaigning for from the start – a free hand.
    Under the LGA – unless an individual councillor has a sufficient number of Code of Conduct charges against him/her, that are considered serious enough for dismissal, they remain in their position. The new code gives the minister the power to dismiss a councillor.
    Under the LGA – individual councillors cannot be sacked. For those aspiring to the mayor’s position, the solution has been the unprecedented pressure for him to resign. Should the mayor resign, it would effectively hand the council management to the present councillors. The same councillors that prefer to operate behind closed doors. So Mickey, we agree. In these circumstances, all should go.

  6. Robin Charles Halton

    June 20, 2016 at 3:22 am

    Local government minister Gutwein blew it badly for not sacking the Huon valley Council as Mayor Coad correctly suggested.

    I know a few of these individuals from the past and the hatred and stirring among them will continue, mediation wont help, differences are ingrained and permanent reminders of their individual personality traits with much entrenched indifference between camps within the council.

    Fresh elections are the only way to go, keep driving that objective Mayor Coad.

  7. Trish Kyne

    June 19, 2016 at 4:44 am

    # I agree Simon. Rock and a hard place and typical of government decisions; so the least line of resistance is an effort to maintain face and keep votes. It’s like every politician that walks away blaming family pressure or illness for their decision, when they have actually been dumped.
    I found the comment in the report regarding Peter Coad being a first time mayor as a leadership issue to be laughable. There is no mention of time served on councils prior to this election, or the fact that he was deputy mayor, or the many boards he has been on during a long career. I don’t believe any of the HotH group has any experience to equal that.
    It does seem from the Mercury (Sat) that the mayor is taking a stand. He has ‘outed’ Gutwein by revealing that following legal advice he had approached the minister to instigate mediation between himself, the general manager and the councillors over a year ago. Mayor Coad said he had met with both the Premier and Minister Gutwein and his request for mediation was ignored; another travesty.
    In today’s Mercury, Matt Smith indicates that the decision is about appeasing the forestry faction. He goes on to say that Cr Ruzicka was selected to sit on the State Inaugural Ministerial Council on Forestry. This was by Paul Harriss. He has remained in that position under Minister Gutwein. To my mind, representing ratepayers and representing forestry interests is a clear conflict of interest.
    Matt points out that there was a 36% increase in polling favouring the Liberals, in the Huon in the years between 2010 – 2014; a shift which has apparently been attributed to forestry interests. I wonder what the influx of ‘climate refugees’ from other states would contribute to that 36%?
    If the change in voting patterns is due to the relocation of out of state people, who are used to a higher standard of justice, transparency and integrity; this decision may bring down the government anyway. At least the premier could lose his seat in Franklin…..!
    I have friends who have just come back from Burnie where the minister’s decision was front page news and a hot topic of conversation in the north. People from other parts of the state were also present and equally outraged at the minister’s decision. So the concerns are not isolated to the Huon. Maybe Minister Gutwein’s seat won’t be safe either.

  8. Mickey Mouse

    June 19, 2016 at 3:02 am

    #24, Geoffery, you win, I read it!

    Agree the council is dysfunctional so far as the Mayor & GM both either willingly or unwillingly have a fractured relationship. Can’t get rid of just one apple though, both need to go.

    Council is financially sustainable, has no debt as the mayor stated leading into the election.

    Block voting exists, both green and heart. Who is right & who is wrong though? Have to think the majority is generally right given the councillors all stated that the heart team was formed to direct a vision for the valley not a political force. The BOI stated also that green issues are voted for by greens. Clearly block voting exists

    Petty sessions jetty, appears council acted in good faith whilst developer was ill before succumbing to illness. Good to see some compassion was likely applied but it also appears the issue was directed to the crown who are the legal owners of the land. Wilson appears to have declared an interest so no smoking gun here.

    Cygnet hall, nobody including the mayor should enter a building suspected of containing asbestos without propper PPE or like control measures now matter the reason. Council appears to have followed its policies once alerted. Three weeks did go by so I can only assume this was a time frame around contractors. If not then policy & procedural issues exist and need to be addressed.

    FTE’s whilst higher than similar councils the fact that medical centres and children’s centres are managed by this council resulting lay inflate the numbers. Costs per FTE were averag with other compared councils.

    Finally the BOI gave the minister two recommendations for action with one being the removal of council but no mention of GM? The other was to attempt mediation with set goals and timelines or revert to first option. I feel the minister has played the political card here (to be expected) to see who is willing and capable of working through the issues. Judging by the press over the last few days the mayor is not appearing to go down this path and attempt to resolve the issues. Pretty selfish attitude IMO.

    Thus now I have read the report and I am now better informed with what is going on at this council and it is my opinion that if the council & GM can not resolve their issues then it would seem fair for both the mayor (and any other aggrieved councilors) along with the GM should fall on their swords for the good of the residents of the Huon valley.

    M. Mouse
    Disneyland USA.

  9. Simon Warriner

    June 19, 2016 at 12:52 am

    On reading the report it seems to me that the conduct of the GM has been handled more gently than it deserved. The issue highlighted by Shane Johnson at #21 points tells us that punches have definitely been pulled. One has to wonder why.

    It seems to me that the Minister has placed the Mayor in an untenable position, and given the councilors a “get out of jail free” card.

    If the Mayor stays it ends in tears and he cops some of the blame, regardless. Gutwien enacts plan B and claims he gave them every chance.

    If Coad resigns, the remaining councillors will get a new mayor on a countback, one more to their liking, and sweetness and light will return to reign supreme, meaning Coad cops all the blame. Gutwien claims his plan A a success.

    Given what has transpired so far it is unlikely that any of the recalcitrant councilors will do the decent thing and resign, so it will fall to Coad to make the first move.

    The best he can do is to highlight Gutwien’s lack of spine and the untenable position he has been placed in his resignation, and move on to better things. He has my sympathy.

    Meanwhile the structural problem of directly elected Mayors remains and festers……..

  10. Geoffrey Swan

    June 17, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Dear Mickey.. I am certainly not wanting to be viewed as acrimonious to your comments but you continue to open yourself to personal criticism.

    If for no other good you are providing us with an ongoing platform and an opportunity to bounce off our views.. so thank you.

    Me.. I live in Lonnavale (not Loonavale.. typo or satire???).. and since you persist in not telling us who you are.. I believe I know “everyone” living in Lonnavale.. so do I know you… come clean Mickey.. stand up and be a man or woman, stop hiding and just join in the debate.. what are your hiding from… retribution.. embarrassment.. personal links to Councillors…

    I do have my suspicions as to who you are but TT Editor has previously deleted my comments – which is fine by me.

    Anyway.. please just read the BOI report before you put foot in mouth comments out again.

  11. Bob Hawkins

    June 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    #18 Mickey, what can the votes of three dissenting councillors on the occasional issue (and they vote unanimously with the Heart more than 95% of the time) do to make the council dysfunctional? Nothing.

    The Heart can pass anything it likes, and does. What is making the council dysfunctional has been a determined effort by a few (inside and outside the council), since the October 2014 election, to isolate and undermine the man who won the popular vote for the mayor’s job. I’m certain, being the gentleman that he is, Coad has been willing to co-operate for the greater good, but only as long as council enjoys good governance, transparency and genuine and productive consultation with the community. One can’t ask for much more than that.

    By the way, your sentence beginning, “Not just one or two . . .” does strike a harmonious chord or two with me. The disaster zone that HVC is today has its origins in times long before October 2014.

  12. Mickey Mouse

    June 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    #19 Nope

    I would rather live in the sticks at loonavale than read that. Imagine how many pot holes in loonavale road could have been filled in with the money wasted on the enquiry.

  13. Shane Johnson

    June 16, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    The Report of the Board of Inquiry makes many specific recommendations.

    It also makes statements that are open to interpretation.

    Within finding number 4 (F4) it states ‘there is no mechanism in the Act for the Minister to dismiss a council’s general manager’.

    Why does the Board go out of its way to include this in its findings?

  14. Trish Kyne

    June 16, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Your comment Mickey Mouse shows you don’t know me at all. The only axe I have to grind is the public misrepresentation of facts. I absolutely agree that the people who are having their legal bills footed by the ratepayers should be personally liable for them. The only person who has acknowledged that they are paying their own way is Mayor Coad. When Cr Smith asked a question on notice at a recent council meeting relating to the legal expenses of the council, the general manager listed all the operational legal costs and said there were no costs related to the BOI. If you examine the wording, at this point, as far as we know, the government has not given the HVC a bill to contribute to the cost of conducting the inquiry. In the absence of invoices, it is difficult to prove who had their costs covered for legal advice, or the production of reports, or advice or opinion or whatever wording is used in the spin that is ongoing.

    If you simply believe I am picking on Cr Wilson for the fun of it you are wrong. Cr Wilson has chosen to be the spokesman in representing council issues. If he does not provide all the information in a balanced way, then I believe it is important to point that out. During the Barge proposal stance, I was the one who stuck my neck out because I have no family in Tasmania and no business interest to the threatened. If the barge proposal had been treated fairly and the ratepayer’s submissions accepted, I wouldn’t be in this position now. The absolute disregard for ratepayer’s rights kept me interested in council activities, including attending all the council meetings.

    By pointing out the misinformation, my intent is to provide ratepayers who do not attend meetings with a balanced view. The view I present is based on the facts. I also believe people are more than the sum of their political views.

    I believe the purpose of the minister’s decision is to try and get a group of adults to pull together and represent the ratepayers that voted for them. If you believe one person’s political belief can derail the council you are wrong. However, Cr Wilson has stated his intent in the Mercury (16 June), and I quote: “The minister’s decision was acknowledgement that the council was not dysfunctional” He has obviously read the 60 findings of the board, along with the 55 recommendations. How can he deny the dysfunction?

    My interpretation of this comment is that there is no acceptance by the councillor of any responsibility for his part in this process. It also, I believe, indicates a view that will disallow the councillor to be a team player in any size shape or form. Ratepayers expect that their elected representatives act in the best interests of them, the ratepayers. They need action, in the form of good infrastructure and decisions that encompass all ratepayers. I believe if a fraction of effort had been put into the job at hand instead of the apparent priority to remove the mayor, we would not be in this predicament.

    T0 add to the councillor’s comments – his ‘Good News’ in last week’s Huon News is misleading in both statements. Firstly if you compare someone’s rates on the amount being paid on an individual basis, you can give the appearance that one is higher than the other. However, the Kingborough council has produced a comparison of rates for 7 councils. I am in the process of confirming the date this was produced and believe it was for the 2014/2015 year. I believe that because there are no fire related charges and the rubbish collection for HVC is $8 higher.

    HVC rates are actually 25.6% higher than Kingborough. So that dispels the bogeyman that amalgamation with Kingborough would result in higher rates for the HV.

    In the 9 years I have been in this state, Kingborough has done an amazing amount of work in the visible upkeep of the council area. They are consultative and inclusive. HVC does not compare.

    The second part of the ‘good news’ last week was that the wage bill had been reduced by 18%. However, the new three year Enterprise Bargaining Agreement kicks in 1st July is an additional $2.4 million in wages. To my mind, private enterprise does not increase wages at a rate that prohibits fiscal responsibility, by using up their incoming funds on wages. Considering the Wage Price index for the private sector sits at 0.4% and the public sector at 0.7% while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 1.5%, I believe this EBA agreement is a travesty.

    These are facts Mickey, and should be out in the public domain. If you consider that ‘hammering on’ then so be it. However, I expect adults to behave in such a way that in any work situation, they leave their political bias at the door, along with their personal ambitions and any old grudges and get on with the job they are paid to do.

  15. Geoffrey Swan

    June 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Read the Report Mickey!!

    Attend Council meetings Mickey.

    Stop reading the Huon News Mickey – not the first time you have commented about the quality of this local paper.

    Read the Report Mickey…

  16. Mickey Mouse

    June 16, 2016 at 11:10 am

    #17 Trish, Well from #13’s post “I’m in there for 6 more months” indicates his attitude to me. Why not “we have six more months to get our act together and work as a team for the people of the Huon”. Instead he is using the defeatist attitude before any mediation and attempts to work through issues has begun. If it was Mick Wilson saying that you Trish would be going him hammer & tongs. Just because this green councilor whistles doesn’t mean you should follow.

    I don’t need to read 100+ pages of bla bla bla to see that there exists a group who can’t get there way so the only option is to chuck a tanty and refuse to cooperate for the people. It’s not just one or two but the GM & whole nine councillors that are to blame. One only has to read the crap in the Huon News each week to see who the instigators in this are (both councilors and those like you Trish with an axe to grind).

    I hope when the dust settles and the bill is on the table one of you dirt rakers take up the fight to the ex councilors and ex managers at the council to dig into their own pockets to pay for the reports, lawyers, and any other costs that fall out from this sad & sorry saga. Would be surprised if the bill isn’t around the 150k mark, a cost ratepayers will end up with. Imagine what 150k could do, it could get a lift in the hall at Cygnet, maybe seal a kilometre of road or even build some new recreational walking trails in the valley. Nope, that money has been thrown away in self interest by a small handful. Pretty sad anyway you look at it!

  17. Trish Kyne

    June 16, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Doesn’t sound like you go to council meetings Mickey. The people who need mediation doesn’t include Ian. Read the report!

    Ian had come in to this group when Rosalie moved on – and I am sure he must think he landed in a kindergarten.

  18. Mickey Mouse

    June 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    #13 should heed the ministers decision and get over his issues, take part in mediation and become part of a “TEAM”. Time to stop fighting and start doing what we elected you to do, govern!

  19. Bob Hawkins

    June 15, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    #12 Shane, that’s only four cards. My understanding is that there have been maybe as many as seven credit cards in use by people related to the council. They should all be examined, right back to the turn of the century. Only an outside, independent examiner could reliably establish the full facts surrounding HVC’s use of credit cards.

  20. Trish Kyne

    June 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Releasing the information under cover of the current upheaval in government may have been an effort to slow down the dissemination of the decision, and the perceived backlash.

    The report was quite clear mediation would not resolve anything. Considering Peter Coad’s work history, mediation is a slap in the face.

    I don’t believe a 6 month reprieve will solve anything either and I agree with Shane that amalgamation is still on the cards.

    The compliance list for the HVC in the next 6 months is:

    • stopping the portfolio system and establishing a committee system
    • expand the Audit Committee to allow outside referral of matters
    • a community consultation process to develop a community consultation plan, internal and external
    • improve process of providing information to the Mayor and councillors from the GM
    • establish a GM performance review committee (Mayor ex-officio)
    • ability of councillors to review HR policies, plans and programs
    • make corporate credit card statements for last 4 years publicly available
    • make senior staff provide a supportive environment for staff
    • develop KPIs with LG Div/DPAC to measure the effectiveness of council’s directions.

    Council are required to report every 2 months to LG Div/DPAC for 6 months, and then quarterly until 2018 election.
    So – improve processes, change long held systems that exclude wider input (unless there is a pretence that 3 makes a committee) and produce two monthly reports as well as being personable………… I doubt they will make 6 months let alone carry on until 2018.

    In case anyone is still looking for the report the link is:
    http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/local_government/board_of_inquiry_-_huon_valley_council

  21. Ian Mackintosh

    June 15, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Nothing to see? Really? I’d encourage Mr Mouse to give the Report a good read. Plenty to see and plenty to improve was my take away. The recommendations will go someway to fixing the problems if implemented. If we as Councillors can’t or won’t accept the recommendations then we’re, rightly IMHO, history. Personally, I’m happy that the somewhat anachronistic portfolio system is for the bin, I’ve had issues with that since arriving. Also, in my view, the credit card motion that passed in January should have stood. I remain of the view that the quickest path to putting that issue to bed is releasing the data. The Board was of the same mind it seems.

    Having the Report finally publicly released, gives the community opportunity to see the issues in daylight. This is good and as it should be. It allows the speculation to end and provides councillors some freedom to engage with the ratepayers that elected us on these matters.

    Should the Minister have acted on the main recommendation and placed HVC into administration? Read the report and judge for yourself. I’m not going to lose sleep worrying about what I can’t control. I’m in there for 6 more months I’ll do the best with what I’ve got.

    It is now absolutely beyond debate that improvements must be made. It’s also laid out simply and in a nice font what must be done. Time to get on with it.

    Cr Ian Mackintosh

  22. Shane Johnson

    June 15, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Gutwein is a politician. The main motivations of politicians are to pursue their policies and to avoid unnecessary problems. Deferring a decision achieves both of these aims. In six months time if Council is still dysfunctional he will have a reason to pursue amalgamation which is the stated Gov’t policy. By waiting he creates the illusion of fairness and kicks the problem down the road. Had he sacked the Council now there would have to be an election in 12 months’ time and this would have messed with the amalgamation time frame.

    Mickey @ 11, you should read the full report. The recommendations for change are sweeping.

    The first test will be whether Council does a full four year examination of the use of credit cards by the General Manager, the former Mayor, the former Acting Mayor and the Current Mayor.

  23. Mickey Mouse

    June 15, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Well it appears the small minority and vocal brigade were indeed wrong and that the minister has made the right decision here. The Honourable Minister Peter Gutwein could have taken the knee jerk reaction the board suggested and just sacked the council but after carefull consideration he has made the only ruling he could have.

    Clearly “nothing to see here” play on lads……..

  24. mike seabrook

    June 15, 2016 at 3:22 am

    expect will be an issue with rate collections when the valuer general reassesses the current values – should merge with kingborough and be done with it.

    easy.

  25. John Powell

    June 14, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    The decision by Minister Gutwein says everything that needs to be said about the Hodgman Govt, an inept fibber in Harriss, ditto Brooks, and now a gutless obfuscating Whiner. A bit more to come on Ferguson I suspect. Almost makes Bryan Green look clean ….. oh but then again!

  26. Bob Hawkins

    June 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    So the Huon Valley Council is not going to be dismissed.

    I didn’t think the minister had the bottle to give our valley a brand new start, and it looks like it’s proving to be so.

    Haven’t heard the details of Gutwein’s statement yet, but I’m hoping it deals with all the more controversial issues, among them: the Cygnet Caravan Park; the long-ignored broken asbestos in Cygnet Town Hall; a close analysis of all factors involved in the appearance of an unapproved and illegal jetty at Franklin; allegedly buried asbestos on the Franklin waterfront; a forensic assessment (matched with invoices) of all HVC credit card statements (not just the mayors’ and the GMs’) these past 15 years . . .

    I’m hoping the minister’s decision also includes a squeaky clean independent actuary, or similar, to do the investigating.

  27. Alan Mason

    June 14, 2016 at 7:27 pm

  28. Alan Mason

    June 14, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Breaking News:

    No action taken, A list of recommendations for Council to consider/act on. Well there ya go.

  29. Brenda Rosser

    June 14, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Dear Mr Gutwein, an ‘as of right’ development next door involved the raising of ground level by 3 feet with loose fill and ‘retaining’ this fill up against the wooden boundary fence(!!) The runoff on this surface then directed to the foundations of my house. Burnie City Council did the following when I complained:
    – advocated for a view for the owner of this property in the context of this person failing to answer correspondence on the issues for well over a year and he never having asked for a view (existing 60 year old trees in my yard would need to be chain-sawed down);
    – outright refused to action the drainage issue with Mr Earl insisting “Council don’t do drainage”. The Council then waited for 2 years or so while I constructed drainage channels on my own property and then (the work being completed) changed their story saying they needed to drain next door with a pipe on my block. Without compensation, the GM insisted.
    – Refused to inform me as to where the original ground level was supposed to be next door, blaming the neighbour for trespass and nuisance. Subsequent FOI documentation revealed falsification of the contours of the original land (depicted as a perfectly horizontal line when, in fact, the ground was sloping steeply to the north with a bog on the Western side). The building as constructed did not reflect the building plans with the actual floor level being raised by 3 feet beyond that depicted on the plans…etc, etc..

    Surely the Minister can demand adherence to the Planning Scheme and compensation to the Council’s victims?!

  30. Geoffrey Swan

    June 13, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Being a “nerd” I have managed to enhance the poor HVC audio recording and I can advise Cr Paul’s almost indecipherable comments are as follows, approx 38 minutes in:

    First up Deputy Mayor Paul responded “how has it been proven Mayor” – (in response to Mayor Coad’s advice the leaking has been proven which he confirms is in writing from 7HOFM)

    “Yeah Mayor.. I’m not sure where you are going with this again… (gallery guffaws followed by Mayor Coad calling for order).. the previous speaker Cr Studley was put back in his seat for saying no lets not talk about this – it’s all over and done with.. umm.. why you keep bringing things up like that.. and now you are doing exactly the same thing in asking a question. So I am not going to answer that.”

    The question on the table was will Council support a Police investigation into the leaking to 7HOFM.. pretty simple really as Mayor Coad reiterated “yes or no”…

    Why did Cr Paul and Cr Ruzicka NOT support a Police investigation??

    And whilst Cr Heron supported a Police Investigation he still could not resist saying “But I’m not really sure where you are going with this…”

  31. Shane Johnson

    June 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    The idea that the people from the Channel (from Margate south) and from Bruny Island would choose to join with the Huon Valley Council is ludicrous.

    It is arrogance in the extreme to float the idea before even discussing this with the Kingborough Council and with those residents who will be affected.

    Councillor Wilson is very selective with his facts. He neglects to inform the readers of the Huon News that in the Huon Valley the General Rate is 0.3235 cents in the dollar of Capital Value for a property. In Kingborough, the General Rate is 0.2747 cents in the dollar.

    This means that the Huon Valley’s rates are nearly 18% dearer than Kingborough’s.

    It is likely, therefore that the Channel and Bruny rates would rise by at least that amount.

    This does not even take into account the inefficiencies that would arise from the Huon having to manage the services for the expanded area.

    The proposal is a nonsense but it is appears that it is the only one that the Heart of the Huon mob and their backers will countenance. It removes their last shred of credibility.

    It is a shame that this group so recklessly sought to undermine Mayor Coad in order to maintain power. I am one of many who did not want an amalgamation with Kingborough. I said so when I spoke to the Board of Enquiry last November.

    However, given this latest proposal and the antics of the Heart of the Huon group since Mayor Coad was elected, it is likely that Minister Gutwein has all the ammunition he needs to follow the amalgamation path.

    On a brighter note, new Councillor James Lange is a decent man and I am confident that he will assess each issue on its merits and cast his vote accordingly.

  32. Nigel Crisp

    June 13, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Mr Gutwein should develop some guts of his own; for a start, take a drive out to Glenorchy and sack the aldermen and manager of the GCC, and place the council in administration.
    With some aldermen venting their spleen on legal matters, there is the sniff of ratepayers money going to pay the legal bills of these councillors.
    I’m cursing my own naivety when we voted for Kristie Johnson to be our new Mayor, when all we had to do was seek the prior approval of the sitting aldermen for their permission to accept Kristie in this role. Perhaps this prior approval could be achieved with some new voting forms where we have a tick box which makes the new mayor’s election conditional on the current aldermen.
    Gutwein, it’s past time you shifted your arse on these local councils !

  33. Trish Kyne

    June 13, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Good overview Bob.
    Hansard minutes reveal that Lara Giddings also has a copy of the BOI report. Be interesting to know which mail box that was left in.
    Despite Mayor Coad pointing out the Huon D’Entrecasteaux option was a working document, and not the final report, underlined the Hoth group’s penchant for disregarding the protocols surrounding such a move, and in particular, community consultation (something this group does very badly). As a working document, it is obvious that feasibility studies, and financial considerations were yet to be explored. This particular motion does appear to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Kingborough resolution. How would the HVC deny a direction from the minister to partake in negotiations with another council?
    Cr Studley’s request for a list of the work conducted and concluded by the HVC (including being placed on the HVC website) was a classic misdirection. The inquiry was never about the throughput of the council workload. The actual basis for the inquiry is detailed on the Premier and Cabinet website:
    • Complaints by councillors against the mayor, alleging non-compliance with the functions of mayor under the Local Government Act;
    • Complaints by ratepayers against councillors, raising code of conduct and financial governance issues;
    • Complaints by the mayor against the general manager relating to failure to fulfil functions;
    • Complaints by the general manager against the mayor about non-compliance with the Act and other issues; and
    • Complaints by the mayor and another councillor against the council, raising governance and operational issues.
    There is nothing related to the output of council work. The points relate to interpersonal relationships, code of conduct complaints, and non-compliance of legal requests.
    With the rumours about the possibilities relating to Dover, South Port and forestry – the spectre of barges in the Huon River has also raised its head again. Dennis Bewsher has already made presentation to the Tasmanian Planning Commission, and the HVC admits to having an application from Telopea, but has nothing to reveal at this stage.
    In the much lauded clean green Tasmania, with the need to increase opportunities for tourism, there appears to be no insight into the issues surrounding the development of grubby industrial eyesores. I wonder what the developers of the Recherché Bay pontoon Hotel will feel about barges and pulp mills………

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