Common Sense and Good Questions.

Among those in the community who spoke at Council against the decision for Council to move to the Masters’ Building, based on the figures presented to Council in the report commissioned by Council from the Balmoral Group – a national company based in Sydney, was local resident, Andy Keir.

Here are his remarks – “I wish to speak about the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) conducted by the Balmoral group.

I am just an ordinary member of the public. My background is in technology not accountancy … and yet it is obvious even to me that the CBA is a grossly flawed and inadequate document.

There are so many omissions, so many assumptions.

I know I am not permitted to ask questions so please understand the following are rhetorical questions … questions asked in order to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.

Why is there no mention of Gloucester? Anywhere!

Why is there no mention of the MidCoast Water building in Taree?

Why does there appear to be no allowance for the costs involved in the operation of a customer service centre at Forster?

Why is it that the report appears not to take into account what staff will be paid by way of allowances to travel to and from Taree over the next twenty years?

Where is the provision to service loans while the Masters site is not ready for occupation but the existing buildings remain occupied by Council and thus continue to incur costs while not producing income?

There is a sum allocated for IT and audio-visual expenditure in chambers … but how many chambers do we have? … I’m fairly confident it isn’t three as the CBA assumes.

There is no council chamber in the MidCoast Water building just up the road.

Why have costs been included to refurbish that MidCoast Water building just up the road when it is a relatively new building in an excellent state of repair, purpose built for the role it would play and requiring little or no modification?

Seriously! … vast amounts of money to refurbish a relatively new building which only cost $2.1 million to build in the first place!

On the subject of the MidCoast Water building … it is less than two hundred metres from here so where is the justification in treating it as a separate entity for IT and other cost purposes? 

As just one example, why would two buildings, a couple of hundred metres apart, each need a $450,000 server when a few hundred metres of optical fibre to connect

the buildings would provide a cleaner and more efficient solution at a fraction of the cost?

Did Balmoral know the geography? … I’m guessing not.

There is a sophisticated wide area network connecting Taree and Forster as well as most parts of the Council area. That network was inherited from MidCoast Water. Go and stand at the front door of this

building and look up at the reservoirs on Likely Street and check out that communications tower … that’s part of the network … a network which is a very significant ingredient in a multi-site model.

Council owns it.

Does Council understand that?

Did Balmoral understand that?

MidCoast Water operated a multi site model successfully and efficiently for the best part of twenty years without needing complete duplication of IT infrastructure at both Taree and Forster. Was Balmoral made aware of that precedent?

This Cost Benefit Analysis looks to have been written in absentia and based on very selective information designed to elicit a particular outcome.

This isn’t a project … it’s a house of cards.

The Balmoral CBA is by any estimation an inadequate and unreliable document and any decision based upon it will therefore be an unreliable decision.

Councillors, the community is not the enemy. The community does not hate you. Forget the taunts on social media or the jibes from the gallery … much of that is driven by frustration from people who feel they have no other voice.

The reality is that most of those people probably voted for you. If they had not, you would not be here. They voted for you in the expectation that you would represent them. They didn’t vote for Council staff. They

didn’t vote for consultants. They put YOU here expecting you to be their advocate … and right now they are feeling very badly let down.

The most important sentence in the report appears in Annexure A.

In regard to community impact it reads  . . . . “The feedback received clearly does not support the project”.

If you have the slightest doubt as to the veracity of that statement then you have but to put the question of support for this project to the community in plain and simple terms. Council can do that, and one way or the other it will put an end to the matter.

I think you already know the answer though.”

Andy Keir. 

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