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