Tony Judge condemns Council managers over waste management secrecy

Coffs Harbour Mayoral candidate Tony Judge has slammed Council senior managers for failing to disclose waste management information to councillors and the community. Photo: Tony Judge.


COFFS Harbour Mayoral candidate Tony Judge and the Labor Council Team have slammed Council’s senior managers for a “lack of accountability” over waste management and other issues in the region.

“The recent refusal by senior Council managers to issue a full explanation of their efforts to solve the Coffs Harbour waste crisis shows an extraordinary lack of respect for Councillors and a total disregard for accountability,” Tony Judge said.

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Crs Tegan Swan and Sally Townley requested a summary of Council’s actions relating to waste management in the Coffs Harbour region at last night’s Council meeting on Thursday 22 July, including a list of discussions, negotiations, offers, tenders and current contracts with Council, and Council’s total legal costs.

Council staff stated in a report that a number of these directives are “most likely impossible to deliver”, and noted that a councillor briefing arranged for Tuesday 27 July will address a “significant amount of the matter”.

“The request by Councillors for a full explanation of negotiations between Council managers and the waste services company, Biomass Solutions, was both reasonable and responsible,” Mr Judge said.

“Senior Council staff should have been able to provide such a report almost immediately.

“Instead, they decided it was all too hard and effectively refused.

“There is a culture of secrecy, a reluctance to communicate with Councillors and a general sense that Managers, not Councillors know best.”

Mr Judge stressed that this was not how a representative democracy should work.

“We elect Councillors to represent our interests, decide on Council policies and ensure that there is effective administration,” he said.

“We hold them accountable for Council’s performance.

“When a manager refuses to provide critical information, it leaves Councillors in a position where they have all the responsibility but no control.

“The end result is that ratepayers lose confidence in the Council as a whole.”

Mr Judge said his criticism was not levelled at Council staff who provide day-to-day services to ratepayers.

“I think that the Council workers who look after our community do a good job,” Mr Judge said.

“The people who work on roads, look after our parks and run community events do their best and engage positively with our community.

“However, they are being let down by a few people in senior positions who do not seem to think that they are accountable to us, the ratepayers of Coffs Harbour.

“That’s not fair to the reputations of those Council workers and it’s not fair to the community.”

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