Local, Opinion/Comment

Andrew Fraser calls Gordon Street ‘greatest waste of money ever’.

The former State member for Coffs Harbour since 1990, Mr Andrew Fraser, has joined the debate over the Cultural and Civic Space saying there is an easier alternative, which he believes could be almost cost neutral for ratepayers.

Talking to the Coffs Coast Advocate today Mr Fraser said that he has been warning against the project since it was first developed and when the cost was estimated to be $35million.

Andrew Fraser

Mr Fraser said he didn’t believe in wasting public funds and argued Gordon Street was just that.

The proposed Cultural-Civic Centre which would include a new library, art gallery, museum and council office administration space, is currently estimated to cost $76.5million but there are fears among some councillors that this could blow-out to as much as $100-million with long-term consequences. the addition of Council Chambers and Administration has added at least $41 million to the concept

Proposed Cultural and Civic Space.
The proposed Cultural and Civic Space at 21-31 Gordon Street.

The Coffs Harbour City Council vote will decide whether or not to proceed to the tender stage next.

Some councillors, including Paul Amos and Tegan Swan, have aired concerns about the costs and the proposals to fund the building, especially given their have been a number of unsuccessful funding proposals to both the State and Federal Governments.

Mr Fraser told The Advocate “We need to take a deep breath and take a good look at the alternatives and see what can be done at zero or very low cost to ratepayers”.

He went on to say that in his view the “project is the greatest waste of money ever seen”.

He argued the Council had the opportunity to add storeys to the current council chambers and that option had been investigated and costed.

Mr Fraser belives the Gallery should be moved to City Hill with the library being expanded into the old Art Gallery space. He believes if that were to be done “then it comes out at nil, or next to nil, cost to the ratepayer” he told The Advocate.

He then went on to say that there had been ‘zero’ interest in the project from the State and Federal governments. Which could explain the lack of Government funding.

Mr Fraser said he believed Council’s back-up plan was to sell the airport bwhich currently makes a profit of $3 to $4milion a year.

Councillors will meet on Thursday evening at 5pm to vote on taking the project to tender stage. The public is encouraged to attend.

The Friends of the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery and Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce have come out strongly in support of the project and are lobbying councillors in the lead up to the crucial vote.

They have been countered by prominant local businessman Mr Steve Gooley, the GM of Park Beach Plaza and the Bachrach Naumburger Group, who also argues that the proposal will ‘saddle the city with debt for years to come and that the eight figure sum of money Council want to spend on the project could be spent better elsewhere’.


  1. Riki Bekker

    Apparently Council believe they are going to get $20m for Rigby House, the old Museum and their Rose Avenue digs!

    If anyone comes into town and pays that please send them to me. I have a bridge for sale.

  2. City Hill would be.a white elephant. This building is well placed and will hugely serve to enhance the CBD and businesses, which is coming along really well as a place to shop and visit. Cronyism is on display in Frasers comments. His time is over. Let Coffs have some aspiration. It’s a sensational design. The community won’t regret it. The Cultural economy is tied to the Silver economy and the Service Economy. People have moved here and want more from their cultural and political institutions. This building captures this sense of self care for who we are. The Economy is anyway about us as a society. The building is one to be proud of as a regional city. It tells a story of creativity and place and function that will serve us well

  3. Rob Trezise

    Susan Jenvey, as a Labor Candidate at the recent elections for the seat of Oxley, don’t you think it would have been appropriate that you mentioned this in your post ?
    As it was Labor’s policy to be against the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium and the massive cost of rebuilding,you could be seen to be a hypocrite supporting the blatant extravagance of the Coffs Harbour City Council planning on spending $86+ million and rising on their new Council offices dressed up as an art gallery, library and token museum?
    Since you are a Nambucca Shire Councillor, if I were a ratepayer there I would expect you to have a more responsible attitude towards the spending of other peoples money on such a building if it were at Macksville or Nambucca Heads.
    Although you don’t live in that shire do you? Are you a Coffs Harbour resident ?
    Another non disclosure by you is it ?
    My disclosure is that I am a member of the Friends Of The Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery and served two years on the committee. I can no longer support the groups committee being the cheer leaders of the CHCC into this disaster for my city.

  4. Gloria VOGLSINGER

    I’ve said my piece a few days ago.
    BRIEFLY Interest only based on currents rates eg $75million x 5% = $3,750,000 million per annum.NOTE NO REPAYMENT OF PRINCIPAL
    CHAMBER of COMMERCE HAS GUESTIMATED A PROJECT INCOME OF $2 million. Plus jobs while it is being built and 31 permanent jobs.
    PLEASE can someone tell me, in detail, where this income will be generated in this plan WHEN THERE IS NO ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE INCLUDED. ( COUNCIL GAVE THIS MONEY MAKER TO CEX CLUB ).
    If I have been mistaken in my opinion and a general calculation I will stand CORRECTED.

  5. The gate is about to close. Nothing more to add, Andrew Fraser is 100 per cent correct. The only contribution I can make is the councillors have an absolute “duty” to act in the best interests of the people; that means putting their minds and their efforts and energies in and towards the development of an iconic gateway to this magnificent city on the lands gifted to the people at CITY HILL. Every good wish for the best outcome. Janne C Lindrum

  6. City Hill would be a more fitting place for an art gallery, especially as only a small percentage of people actually use it – the cocktail party set. Expand the library into that space in Rigby House, and add the second storey to the existing council chambers which are an iconic building in their own right.

    Why place a $76million White Elephant fronting onto an ugly, noisy and busy parking station? We’d be a laughing-stock of local councils.

  7. Brian leahy

    There are 30,000 or so rateable houses in the C.H. council area. Aside from the debacle of the civic centre sale and conversion to members carpark at C.EX., the proposed asset sale leaves, at the current figure, a debt of $46M. Divided among 30,000 rate-payers, this is a figure of $1,533,000 per household.
    Greater than 60% of households have an income of less than $891.00 per week. That the coucil wants to proceed with this folly is an indictment of their financial irresponsibility.
    There is not a bank on the face of the earth that would provide finance to build an edifice to this council’s conceit and stupidity. In these circumstances, it would be irresponsible to proceed. The numbers i quote are from the last census and council website. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

  8. Brian leahy

    Whoops!! Significant error in decimal place

  9. Gloria Voglsinger

    Just wondering whether Councillors are reading these comments at the end of each article written by the COFFS COAST OUTLOOK.

    Show where you stand at the public meeting at the Jordan Centre at the Coffs Showground this coming Thursday 18th July at 6 pm.


    If approved this project will end in tears.Please learn from the glasshouse project in Port budget blowout.I would not let this council build a cubby house,they are a disaster zone . A good predictor of the future is past performance and oh my god it is not good .Please look at the pathetic Jetty Park tendered to a pipe line company with no experience in landscaping ,the ongoing repaving of Palms centre tendered Sydney , does anybody remember the misting machine($100,000) in the Palms centre ended up at tip and speaking of tips is anybody aware of what is happening with bio compost absolute scandal .I would not let the council oversee a meat raffle sorry but have no expertise in this project

  11. Rob Trezise

    FLOT -“Fridays Lunch On Thursday” – you wont find it on Google, but it is worth finding out who the members are and the influence they have over the Coffs Harbour City Council. A secret society that has far too much say in our city. A cartel run for their own interests.
    Unfortunately the Coffs Coast Advocate no longer represents its community and buries all negative news about our council and the deals being done over lunch behind closed doors.
    If you know something, see something, then say something here on Coffs Coast Outlook

  12. I have just listened to the 3.5 council meeting where Mayor Denise Knight used her casting vote . I URGE YOU to listen to the Audio on the Council Website. It’s the end of the Meeting from 03.10- 03.23. Turn up the Volume as the microphone has recorded the TRUTH. !!! This is the verbatim. General Manager Steve McGrath says to Mayor Knight…” Let him do the RECISSION Motion TONIGHT…then HE CANT COME BACK ” ( referring to Cr Paul Amos) Mayor Knight gives Councillors 5 min Break. At end of break Mayor Knight says…” Jesus Christ” Then says to Depty Mayor Tegan Swan…” PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THE RECISSION MOTION…IT MAKES US LOOK LIKE CRIPPLES!!!” Depty Mayor Tegan Swan ( who voted with Cr Amos,Arkan & Rhoades against the motion) …replies to Mayor Knight adamantly..quote.I AM NOT GOING TOO!!! I SAID I WOULDNT!!! NO,NO,NO…ITS WHAT MR SYMONS or SIMMONS SAYS !!! ( Not sure what correct name is) THIS is all on audio but you need too turn up the volume. The Deal has always been done. It’s a DISGRACE!!!

    Editors note; We are onto it Max. See our lead story today Wednesday 17 July.

  13. Tom Strickland OAM

    Two years ago, the Advocate declined to print my letter warning of these issues.

    Many issues will be raised, but please remember the core cultural issues, we must confront:
    • Are we going to abdicate our ownership and development of our Performing Arts Facility to the corporate control of the Cex? If so, please remember what a similar action twenty (20) years ago delivered in the electricity industry – disastrous increases in pricing.
    • Should State Government funding for Cultural Purposes be the exclusive province of Local Government Communities, or released into the hands of Corporations with profit-making objectives? Culture should not be sold out!
    • Can we afford to ignore the community consultation process and blindly charge forward on a Mayoral “Casting Vote” when so much is at stake? I remember that our Mayor campaigned for office on a promise to restore our Performing Arts Facility, yet voted it down on Thursday 11th July 2019!
    • Has Council carefully considered the recorded opinion of John Bercow, Speaker of the British Parliament (on BREXIT) regarding appropriate Governmental use of the “Casting Vote”? That advice promotes caution, with a strong recommendation for further collaboration in search of an appropriate outcome by a majority vote. It should not be used to create a majority on a highly sensitive issue. He observed the “spirit” of the law.
    • Are we prepared to sell off “two farms” (Council Chambers and Rigby House) to raise the deposit on a 30-year mortgage for a Cultural and Civic Space that does not embrace all cultural needs? Look around; The Plaza Group (Bacharach Nom.), Gowings, Cex – all see the value in amassing land holdings in Coffs Harbour. Once in possession would they sell? Yet Council is prepared to sacrifice our blue-chip prime assets! Is that really best practice?

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