Mayor slammed for plan to blacklist businesses linked with hospital:
TWEED Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne received intense backlash this week after she backed a proposed motion for the council to blacklist local businesses involved in building the new $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital.
During a protest at the hospital site on Monday, Cr Milne told the Tweed Daily
News she would be holding an extraordinary council meeting to discuss the boycott.
“That’s what the community has called on us to do, to help with any efforts to boycott the hospital. There’s plans for a blockade (at the site) every day they’re working here,” Cr Milne said.
She also proposed the council would help blockade workers from the Cudgen site, with one protester blocking a truck from entering the site until police intervened.
While Cr Milne later backflipped on the decision following a retraction from protesters, who called their comments “reactionary”, the fallout from her comments has remained.
On Tuesday, Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the comments were “disgraceful” and called on Cr Milne to resign, claiming she had “shown her inability to lead an effective council.”
“Cr Milne’s comments are a direct attack on our local workforce,” he said.
“They are threatening in their nature and show a complete disregard for local businesses.”
A Kingscliff Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said the mayor’s comments were “simply madness and not supported by the chamber”.
“This is a direct threat to people’s livelihoods and people’s jobs, all for the sake of Cr Milne abusing her power,” they said.
“We remind the mayor and councillors to support local businesses in line with their local procurement policy.”
Tweed Chamber of Commerce president and councillor Warren Polglase said the mayor’s move was a direct attack on local businesses, while Cr Pryce Allsop said the mayor needed to “stop dividing the community” over the hospital.
“It is ridiculous. The intent of the mayor’s scheme is riddled with holes,” Cr Allsop said.
“Not sure if the mayor understands that dividing our community over and over isn’t healthy, particularly over extended periods, things can become nasty, we see this time and time again.”
A Tweed business that had workers on site Monday said it was considering whether they would send tradies again.
“We’re are just trying to keep local workers employed and families fed but now we are having second thoughts about being involved,” said the employer of 10 Tweed residents, who did not wish to be named.
“It is scary to think we’re just trying to do a job and keep people employed and now we might be banned from council contracts.”
But Cr Milne hit back at calls for her resignation, claiming the National Party had “betrayed the community” by starting work on the site.
“How dare they call for my resignation when they have so clearly betrayed our community on so many levels,” Cr Milne said.
“Using me as a scapegoat and smokescreen to take the heat off yesterday’s protest against the start of the works on this State Significant Farmland is a low political act.
“Crying foul about a potential boycott is so hypocritical.
“The relocation of the hospital would remove what the State’s own Regional Strategy identifies as the main economic driver of Tweed Heads.”
Cr Milne said a boycott of local businesses would have helped improve economic impacts instead of making them “even worse”.
“The whole point of a boycott would have been to prevent even worse economic and social impacts,” she said.
UNDER FIRE: Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne is under scrutiny after she proposed a ban on local businesses involved in the new hospital.