Councillors Not Happy With Mayoral NOROC Quit Notice

Motion passed by council by narrow margin at meeting 19 March 2013

Motion passed by council by narrow margin at meeting 19 March 2013

Richmond Valley Council Mayor Ernie Bennett Recommended in  a Mayoral Minute that “Richmond Valley Council give NOROC the required 12 months notice to cease being a member of NOROC” at the 19 March 2013 meeting of council.

While an amended version of the Minute Recommendation (see above)  which stated basically that ‘the matter had to come back to council for review before quitting’ got up at the council meeting, the vote was close with several councillors speaking and voting against the motion.

Dr Richard Gates from Evans Head gave the following address to council prior to consideration of the Mayoral Minute:

Address to Richmond Valley Council 19 March 2013

Items 5.1 and 13.6

Today’s Mayoral Minute regarding NOROC makes interesting reading particularly when compared with a similar review by Clarence Council in February.  Five of the subheadings used in the Clarence Report:” Membership and Costs, Funds Committed – Resource Sharing Projects, Voting and Representation, Strategic Direction, Conclusion” are identical with the subheadings used in the Richmond Valley Council Mayor’s report but in a different order.

And much of the meaning of the written material is the same although worded somewhat differently.

Take for example the section on Voting and Representation

Clarence Valley’s first paragraph starts:

Each council and entity have separate and equal voting rights with the Chairperson having a casting vote in the case of a tied vote occurring

Whereas Richmond Valley Council’s first paragraph  states:

“Each council and member entity has separate and equal voting entitlement.  The Chair has a casting vote.”

Or the Funds Committed -Resource Sharing Projects Section:

The Tables are identical.

Clarence Para 1: “The additional funds required to undertake the projects…..”

Richmond Valley Council  Para 1: “The additional funds required to undertake the project….”

Clarence Para 2: “The extent and level of tangible value which the programs provide is questionable….”

RVC Para 2: “The extent and level of tangible value which the programs provide is questionable…”

Clarence Para 3: “The NOROC member mayors meet every three months….”

RVC Para 3: “The NOROC member mayors meet very three months…”

Clarence para 4: “In the preparation for, and attendance at NOROC….”

RVC para 4: “In the preparation for, and attendance at NOROC….”

Or the Strategic Direction section:

Paragraph two in the Clarence Report states:

This lack of strategic direction….”.

Whereas RVC states:

The lack of strategic direction ……


Naturally you would expect there to be some similarity but there is too much of a similarity here for the reports to be independent of each other.

Both draw the same conclusion:  ’12 months notice of intention to cease being a member of NOROC’

It is quite remarkable that two adjacent councils produce very similar reports with many of the words and subheadings being identical yet the Richmond Valley Council report fails to mention that it has used much of the material from the Clarence Report except to say:

“It should be noted that at its last meeting, Clarence Valley Council gave 12 months formal notice of their intention to cease being a member of NOROC”.

By all means use material created by others particularly it if useful or good but it is standard practice to acknowledge use and authorship  of such material.

Quite apart from this problem is the negative nature of the report.  Where is the consideration of any benefit?  Where is the business case?

Council Direction?  The direction Council appears to be taking without consultation with the community is of concern.  The formation of an alliance with our distant Clarence Cousins for what would seem to be political reasons related to National Party politics rather than good strategic thinking which takes account of our economic and social circumstances is deeply worrying.  If the thinking is that there could be succor for unconventional gas mining then the business papers for today for Clarence Valley tell a different story with a notice of motion  asking for legislative change that calls a halt to Coals Seam Gas Mining activity [and all other forms of unconventional gas mining including testing in the Clarence Valley subject to a number of conditions].

However there may be other reasons [for going to Clarence]  including easy access to the Port of Yamba owned by the Sydney Ports Corporation which according to some material I have read is being prepared  for sale to foreign interests associated with the mining industry.  Perhaps council sees a useful alliance here for export of CSG and other products should mining proceed following the Federal election later this year.  After all, Metgasco is only on hold.

Final Remarks  There is much to discuss with the community about the future of Richmond Valley.  The short timetable being given to Community Strategic and other Plans in this business paper is worrying as it will give little time to the community to obtain information and formulate its own views.

Do we really want to amalgamate with Kyogle as indicated by council in February and do we really want to have uncapped rates so that council can charge us what it pleases while giving heavy discounts to big developers for infrastructure which we will all end up subsidising?  Where is the strategic thinking and analysis and adherence to Council’s Charter in the material we have before us today?

Editor:  Since this posting the matter has been reported at:





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