MILNE SCRU­TINY

Mayor slammed for plan to black­list busi­nesses linked with hos­pi­tal:

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Koenig and Ais­ling Bren­nan

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.

PHOTO: SCOTT POW­ICK

UN­DER FIRE: Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne is un­der scru­tiny after she pro­posed a ban on lo­cal busi­nesses in­volved in the new hos­pi­tal.

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