Councillors vote to remain in Mining Association.
At the MidCoast Council Meeting of 22 July the Council voted by 5 to 4 (with two Councillors absent) to remain a member in the Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (MERC) despite the Council Report and a Recommendation that the membership be terminated.
The Report written by Lyndie Hepple, Council’s Community Strengthening Coordinator, stated:
“Given the reduction in potential mining activity in the MidCoast LGA, the Director of Liveable Communities does not believe that membership provides the benefits that were originally anticipated, and is in favour of withdrawing membership of the Association.”.
(BTW what does a StrengtheningCoordinator do exactly? What does one study at school to earn such a moniker??Ed.)
The Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell was Council’s endorsed staff representative to the pro- mining Association.
Cr Peter Shinton (Warrumbungle Council), Chairperson of the MERC from their website explained that:
“The Association represents a diverse number of New South Wales local government councils with an interest in mining, energy and developing the coal seam gas (CSG) industry.”
The annual membership fee to this Association for the 2020/21 year is a whopping $7,828.38 (inc GST). (And how does that benefit the community?? Ed.)
Cr Kathryn Smith (Gloucester) MCC’s nominated delegate to the Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils, argued for Council to remain a member.
Cr Peter Epov moved an amendment, which would have resulted, had it been passed, for the deferral of the decision of membership and a suspension of the payment of the $7,828.38 membership fee until the matter had been fully reviewed, but this was defeated 5 votes to 4. (Nice try Cr Epov.)
In the end, Councillors
Cr K Smith, Cr L Roberts, Cr Cr T Fowler, Cr B Christensen and
Cr C Pontin voted for Council to remain a member of MERC and pay the $7,838.38 fee.
With the votes at 4 all, the decision on the membership was effectively determined by Deputy Mayor Pontin, a former committee member of the Manning Clean Water Action Group, who ‘chaired’ the meeting in the Mayor’s absence and cast the fifth vote.
Mining rules, folks.
For now. Remember this come election day.