A copy of the reply from the Minister’s office, to reader and commentator Julian May’s latest email to her:
“Dear Mr May
Thank you for your correspondence of 28 April 2020, to the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Shelley Hancock MP, regarding Coffs Harbour City Council’s Cultural and Civic Space project (CCS project). The Minister has requested that the Office of Local Government respond on her behalf.
The Government recognises that there are a range of views in the local community on the merits of the CCS project. While the project may not enjoy universal support from all members of the local community, the decision to proceed with the project is one that rests with the Council in its discretion.
However, it is the Government’s view that all councils need to be careful in how they use ratepayers’ money, particularly at a time when they are under financial pressure and facing significant challenges in maintaining delivery of community infrastructure and services because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, the Council will be accountable to its community for its decision to proceed with the CCS project. The community will have an opportunity to demonstrate its support or dissatisfaction with the Council’s decision when voting at the next council election.
Acting Leader, Client Services ”
And a copy of my reply to his reply above:
“Dear Mr Ewens
Many thanks for your timely reply on behalf of the Minister. Whilst I can understand the government’s view with regard to the behaviour of our council, I cannot agree that inaction by the Minister is an appropriate response for our peculiar circumstances.
It is true that disaffected ratepayers will have the chance to express their dissatisfaction at the next council election, but it is equally true that, with the next election now more than a year away, our present, aggressively undemocratic council, will have more than enough time to do immense damage before it can be removed by voters.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that our situation is critical. An unwanted expenditure of around $100 000 000 may well cripple this community financially, for years to come.
I ask again for the Minister’s intervention on our behalf.