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John Cowan
Office of the Commissioner,
Shellharbour City Council Public Inquiry,
Locked Bag 3030,
Nowra,
NSW
2541
Dear Mr Colley,
I have read the submissions to your inquiry and agree in particular with those of Sue
Fleet, Bob Parsons, Bernard Payne, Dennis Chalker and the Department of Local
Government.
1 served on Council from 1991 to 1999 as an independent councillor opposed to the
construction of a marina at South Shellharbour Beach. Every matter dealing with the
project, even after the appointment in 1993 of Walker Corporation as developer, was
dealt with behind closed doors as" Commercial in Confidence". 1 attempted on every
occasion to have these matters debated in open council but was always defeated. Instead,
Brian Weir was given delegated authority to make million dollar decisions and the
councilors happily warmed their seats and worried about potholes.
It appears that nothing has changed and the Shell Cove project has rolled on unscrutinised
by councillors who, with the exception of Geoff Rose, seem to be happy rubber stamping
the shallow Shell Cove Quarterly Report served up by Phil Woodcock.
I would be surprised if any of the current councillors have even read the Shell Cove
Management Agreement.
On the day the decision to appoint a preferred developer was made there were three
interested parties. They were Walker Corporation, (now Australand), Miltonbrook and
MBA Land. Walker Corp were permitted to put in a last minute bid on the afternoon of
the meeting and promised an upfront amount of $2,000,000 for an immediate start to the
marina. They were awarded the project. That was 1993. It's now 2008 and still no start.
An example of what a farce the whole process was can be seen in the then mayor at the
time, Cec Glenholmes, offering the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia the use of the
marina to relocate their fleet during the Sydney Olympics. Their response was wisely
along the lines of "thanks but no thanks".
Not one deadline of the original agreement has been met.
The Shellharbour Golf Club members were promised that they would walk off their old
course on a Sunday afternoon and onto the new one on Monday morning. They were
misled and no longer exist. The new club appears to be a drain on Council rather than the
wonderful asset it was touted to be, although true to form all details are kept away from
public scrutiny.
The Commission of Inquiry into the marina was based on an EIS which dealt with the
disposal of the toxic waste from the old tip site, the disposal of acid sulphate soils, a
massive pump to flush the marina, a certain configuration of the marina and breakwaters
and extensive modeling of wave patterns. All of this has been changed or done away with
warranting a new EIS.
Still the rubber stamping goes on with councillors more concerned about leaks of
information that should be public information anyway and spending who knows how
much on the court case in the L&E court in the process.
As the court case on the alleged leaks started to get out of hand three Labor councillors
appeared to get cold feet and put up a Notice of Motion to withdraw from the court
action. When it came to council all three abstained from acting in support of their own
motion.
In my opinion this shows that all the ALP councillors are not performing their duties in
the best interests of the public.
Firstly, Councillors Hamilton, Bird, Gillette and Hoare, the four who wished the court
case to continue, would have known that they would be defeated if there had be an open
vote on the motion to withdraw the court action .and so used their numbers in caucus to
silence the others 4 to 3.
Secondly, Councillors Greig, Hawker and Leedham by allowing themselves to be
controlled by caucus, have demonstrated that they do not have the public interest at heart
and are more concerned with their own political wellbeing.
On ABC Radio on Thursday 24th of April Michelle Greig said that they could not support
their own motion because of the caucus decision. The fact is that they could have
supported the motion but made a choice not to in their own interests.
Less than satisfactory performance is not confined to the Labor group. In 2004 an
independent councillor moved a motion to rezone land owned by a developer who had
funded his election campaign. It may not have been illegal but demonstrates a lack of
understanding of being above suspicion in public life.
I welcome this inquiry as the council has degenerated into a political brawling match with
councillors more intent on point scoring than working to the common good.
Even though it will deprive people of elected representation for some time, I believe that
the declaring of all civic offices at Shellharbour vacant and appointing administrators is
the only way of breaking the cycle and bringing into the open the answers to all the
matters of immense concern to members of the community.
I am willing to provide any assistance I can to the inquiry if required.
Yours faithfully,
John Cowan

								
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