COMMENT: Council not the place for political soapbox

Cr Mitchell Nadin
Cr Mitchell Nadin

What do our council and our councillors stand for? Whose voices are represented?

Top of the list in any measure would involve roads, rates and rubbish. Then town planning, community infrastructure, tourism and recreation assets. Perhaps you can add to the list.

Unlikely to appear, one might suggest, is taking a political stance against the Victorian state government for business dealings that have nothing to do with the Bega Valley.

Last Wednesday, Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick sought leave to make a statement as a board member of the Southern NSW Local Health District, commenting directly in relation to a local topic raised in questions through the meeting and community.

Cr Mitchell Nadin then took the opportunity to do the same, but took a rather different tack, expressing “solidarity” with beleaguered workers at the Heyfield sawmill in Victoria facing the axe.

On another controversial issue in recent memory, Cr Nadin stood up to express his objections to the Safe Schools program – objections that included “it is not in the council’s purview” to even be discussing it.

Interesting then that he now chooses the council platform to speak out on Victorian timber workers facing the loss of their jobs as well as the closure of the Hazelwood brown coal power station by its owners.

Cr Nadin took umbrage at the Victorian government over both issues

There was a tentative link to the Bega Valley in Cr Nadin’s prepared statement through flow-on effects felt by local tourism operators if workers in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland lose their jobs.

However, his clearly political rant didn’t sit well with the Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association, who said it was “offensive...in particular when there are so many real challenges in our community crying out for attention”.

In his statement, Cr Nadin said “the ill thought through decision by the Victorian government once again reinforces my cynical belief that most politicians don’t understand the delicate balance in regional economies and the devastating and long-term impact these decisions have”.

One would assume his “most politicians” doesn’t include local government representatives, or indeed Liberal opposition in our southern neighbour?

The BVSRRA has even gone so far as to call on Cr Nadin to resign if he chooses not to do the job for which he was elected.