Local, Opinion/Comment

So what did the CHCC delegation to Geelong uncover?

Recently via a letter in the Coffs Coast Advocate it came to light that the Coffs Harbour City Council had sent a delegation to Geelong on a ‘fact finding visit’.

By the Editor

This visit, around the week of August 13 last, received very little if any coverage locally but was given coverage in Geelong as can be seen here and also here in the Geelong Council minutes.

A column in The Bellarine Free News by Geelong Councillor James Taylor stated;

“Last week we received some very positive feedback about where we’re headed as a region.

A group of staff and councillors from Coffs Harbour City Council visited for two days, taking a close look at several of Geelong’s significant locations and the major projects we’re working on.

Coffs Harbour Council has many similarities to us in that they’re developing their waterfront so it’s a great place for tourists and locals to visit, and also planning for cultural facilities and a new civic hub.

During their stay the group was given a detailed tour and briefing on the Geelong Waterfront (pictured left), before visiting our arts and culture precinct, taking in the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Geelong Art Gallery and GPAC.

City staff also showed the group around the CBD to explain the revitalisation work we’re doing as we aim to attract more people to live, work, shop and do business in central Geelong.

The delegation was very impressed with what they saw and learned – particularly in regards to Deakin University, the expansion of Avalon Airport, and the way we’re using the region’s natural assets to our advantage.”

The relevant Geelong Council minutes went on to state that;

“The Mayor welcomed a group of twelve delegates from Coffs Harbour City Council which included the Mayor, four Councillors and seven staff. The delegation are in Geelong on a two day study tour looking at a variety of projects, in particular the Geelong Waterfront Precinct, Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Central Geelong Revitalisation, including Laneway Activation and Green Spine” (My emphasis added).

One presumes that the delegation was looking at these Geelong projects with a view to the CBD project in Coffs Harbour, the Jetty re-development and also the proposed new Council Chambers/Library/Art Gallery in Gordon Street?

However this is just a presumption on my behalf.  I could well be wrong.  Having done a search on the CHCC website using multiple versions of the words ‘visit, delegation and Geelong’, I am none the wiser because I have been unable to find a report to Councillors on this visit.  Or anything else for that matter.  It may be that I am using the wrong search terms.

Nevertheless what did this group of 12 discover that would be of value to the ratepayers of Coffs Harbour who presumably paid for this visit?  And shouldn’t visits and ‘fact finding missions’ such as this be subject to some form of formal, easy to locate,  public report?

Otherwise what is the point of it all?


Below are 4 photos of the delegation’s visit to Geelong by the CHCC delegation.  Sourced from Facebook – Cr Swan’s page.



  1. It is interesting to read that the Coffs Harbour City Council chose a delegation to visit Geelong of all places; and then try to compare that city, with a population of around 250,000 with Coffs Harbour’s and see the development that has taken place there over the past decade that has plunged that city into crisis.
    What our ratepayers should know is how much this trip cost us, and that the Geelong City Council was sacked by the Victoria Government in 2016.
    It was supposed to be in the hands of Administrators up until 2020,however,due to the Victoria state opposition and Greens voting that another election be held, an election was held in 2017 with an all new Council appointed
    High profile former Mayor and Royal Papparazzi, Darryn Lyons has been a strident critic of the current Geelong City Council and its culture and reckless spending, without any real benefit to the greater community.
    However, he must bear the responsibility for his Council making decisions that led to its sacking and the current state of the Geelong economy .It was his Council that voted to spend millions and make crazy decisions that were unsustainable.
    A look at the CBD in Geelong today will reveal many empty shops, high unemployment, homeless people living in the CBD streets and abandoned buildings.
    The economy of Geelong has suffered from the previous Council’s culture and poor decision making.
    One of the buildings visited by the Coffs Harbour delegation, known in Geelong as the “Dome”, a Library and Heritage Centre was built at a cost in the vicinity of $45 million.
    Some calling it the “Big Brain” or the Big Igloo”.
    Some of the other projects visited have been failures and costly to the city.
    Now I ask the reader, can our population, a quarter of Geelong’s, afford to build something similar in our CBD at an estimated cost of $75 million, not risk being sacked for financial incompetence and having a culture of “we shall build what we want” regardless of the debit we shall incur for ratepayers now and well into the future ?
    If the Coffs Harbour City Council continues its current drive to build this monstrosity in the CBD, when it already owns the land on City Hill, when funding has been promised from State and Federal Governments should it plan to establish its Library, Art Gallery, Museum, Council Chambers and offices including an entertainment centre on City Hill, chooses to ignore all these factors, then it is asking to be sacked and wind up like Geelong.
    At the same time quite possibly sending Coffs Harbour into a downward economic spiral.
    Sanity must prevail.
    I urge the Coffs Harbour City Council, to take a step back and learn from the disaster that Geelong created for itself.
    It is not too late to reconsider the City Hill option.

  2. Well said Archie. Spot on.

    And why did we need to send a delegation of twelve? Twelve for goodness sake! It reeks of being an under-the-radar ‘junket’ methinks.

  3. Some interesting comments and thanks to Archie locals are now better informed. While our Council has a policy to be open and transparent, it seems, it applies after they are found out. This is not good enough. It is not acceptable for the G.M. to belatedly try to justify the visit (p26 Advocate 8 September 2018). Many knew of the junket some 10-14 days before the article was published. It is easy to see from the opening paragraph of the column it was written after the visit.
    Well, as was pointed out, both cities have local youth, artists, laneways, furniture and trees. The photo shows us a fine tree; so that is true. But there are no residents in the vibrant city centre. All cities have local youth, trees, etc. But our G. M. said “we went away with a far better understanding of how to assist in making the CBD a success”.
    Is this an admission the years of work on our CBD so far are not a success? How many times will our Council redo the plans? Of interest is did our Council start the transformation of the CBD before or after Geelong did their CBD?
    On a positive note, thanks to the visit, the economy of Geelong went up a notch. Our over-sized delegation found it worthwhile. The introductions alone would have taken up a considerable time. But, to be fair, they got a result.
    It was worthwhile because it is now clear and there is documentary proof – keep the residents out of the CBD. This is what we learn from the example of others. How lucky we are Geelong is ahead of us.

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