JUNKET OR VITAL COLLABORATION? COUNCILLORS TUSSLE OVER PLANNING SESSIONS

Four independent councillors are boycotting a Newcastle Council planning session at a Port Stephens resort – labelling the event “a junket”.

But the Deputy Lord Mayor has hit back, claiming the boycott is a “cheap PR stunt”.

Statement from Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes 
“Restoring trust and collaborative leadership at the City of Newcastle has been our priority over the last five years. Together we have restored the budget while protecting and improving Services. Delivering year on year record works programs across our city and suburbs while maintaining modest operating surpluses.
Our success and stability during this time has been a team effort.
I’m proud that this Council has invested in facilities and training and development for our staff and councillors.
Our people are our greatest asset in Newcastle.
Taking the time to collaborate and work together is vital to our future success as a city.”
Statement from Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen
“A challenge for Elliott and Church in 2020 – turn up and engage in the real issues, or hand back your salaries. Because to date, you’ve been MIA.
This is nothing more than a cheap, rinse and repeat PR stunt from two Independent councillors who have 60 years of spin doctor experience between them.
Unfortunately, we’ve been down this road of argument before. Last time it ended with Cr Robinson’s unretracted sexist and homophobic abuse.
Another challenge for the Newcastle Independent Councillors in 2020 – turn up and engage in the real issues, or hand back your $120k in salaries.
Refusing to attend a joint briefing with a neighbouring council, refusing to work in collaboration with senior staff and their fellow councillors.
Councillors have a legal obligation to complete professional development.
Part of a Councillor’s role should be having input in major development, both within the City and the surrounding area.
On Tuesday nights, councillors are invited to participate in scheduled workshops. These workshops cover a variety of topics including Councils detailed budget and financial performance.  To meet the requirements of the Act, attendance records are kept.
A number of Newcastle Independent Councillors have made a habit of not attending or participating in these scheduled workshops. Kath Elliott and Allan Robinson in particular are often MIA.
A two day session away from the chamber provides an opportunity for them to reset and re-engage. I hope they take up the opportunity.
Sadly, recent history shows that the Newcastle Independents will have little of substance to add.”
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