Ratepay­ers re­spond

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY NEWS AND VIEWS -

YES, Mr Barnes was thrown out of the meet­ing with coun­cil­lors and staff af­ter con­tin­u­ally in­ter­rupt­ing not only my­self in an ag­gres­sive and in­flam­ma­tory man­ner but in count­less and in­ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­jec­tions dur­ing the best ef­forts of coun­cil em­ploy­ees to an­swer Mr Barnes ques­tions. It is fan­ci­ful to sug­gest that the ex­pul­sion was due to the Whit­sun­day Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion not stick­ing to the topic of coun­cil’s fi­nan­cials as af­ter Mr Barnes left I was able to put on the record our com­plete trust of the work the coun­cil­lors and staff have un­der­taken.

Prior to the meet­ing the WRRA ad­vised us that they did not have an is­sue with the coun­cil­lors but with the staff.

The WRA have at­tended most coun­cil meet­ings held in our re­gion and what be­came ap­par­ent when Mr Barnes left was that no mem­bers of WRRA have taken the time to at­tend coun­cil meet­ings over the past year when the is­sues raised have been com­pre­hen­sively dis­cussed in Coun­cil and all coun­cil­lors and mem­bers of the pub­lic in at­ten­dance have been given the op­por­tu­nity to raise any ques­tions. All coun­cil­lors agreed with the Mayor’s state­ment that the fig­ures Mr Barnes has based his vo­lu­mi­nous and con­fus­ing ques­tions for the 2012/13 bud­get were the fig­ures pro­vided to the coun­cil by the pre­vi­ous CEO and all coun­cil­lors con­ceded that those fig­ures were man­i­festly in­cor­rect.

The chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer tried to ex­plain to Mr Barnes that un­der the Lo­cal Coun­cil Act the fig­ures even if in­cor­rect can­not by law be al­tered. WRA have held a num­ber of cor­dial meet­ings with the rel­e­vant coun­cil of­fi­cers since the bud­get was handed down and they have been open, trans­par­ent, com­pe­tent and hon­est in re­lat­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties they have faced be­cause of the to­tal ab­sence of ac­cu­rate data pro­vided by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. Graeme Jarvis re­lated on be­half of the CEO and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer the per­sonal at­tacks made by mem­bers of the WRRA on coun­cil staff. Mr Barnes made it ev­i­dent dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion that bor­dered on ha­rangu­ing dur­ing re­sponses by those present of the bul­ly­ing man­ner in which he en­gages in com­mu­ni­ca­tions with coun­cil staff.

The five or so ques­tions an­swered by coun­cil staff at the meet­ing were an­swered fully but that was not enough for Mr Barnes who in­ter­jected while they were at­tempt­ing to in­form him of the sit­u­a­tion in each case.

It is the view of the WRA that the best way to unite the shire is to work with the com­pe­tent and trans­par­ent team at coun­cil and to work through the many dif­fi­cul­ties they face not of the present ad­min­is­tra­tions mak­ing.

Ross Plow­man TREA­SURER WHIT­SUN­DAY RATEPAY­ERS AS­SO­CI­A­TION

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