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Minister comes, sees but fails to convince

UNDER SCRUTINY: Protestors cheered some but jeered most councillors as they entered the chambers for a meeting with Local Gover
UNDER SCRUTINY: Protestors cheered some but jeered most councillors as they entered the chambers for a meeting with Local Gover

By YVONNE McLEAN

LOCAL Government Minister Desley Boyle's official visit to the Gold Coast City Council last week is thought to have been the first visit of its kind in 27 years.

In 1979 a predecessor of Ms Boyle's, the late Russell Hinze, arrived on the Gold Coast to tell (and it would have been in robust words) the newly elected council to get on with the job it was elected to do.

A year earlier the premier of the day Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Mr Hinze had sacked the Sir Bruce Small-led council for reasons which could have been called "irreconcilable".

During the media session the minister emphasised that she had requested councillors to work hard to repair their image, to restore public confidence and that regaining that credibility rested with each individual councillor.

She left the meeting with a kiss on the cheek from Mayor Ron Clarke - a sign of reconciliation?

When Ms Boyle arrived for the eagerly awaited meeting - a confronting one in the minds of many, she passed a carpet of posters calling for the council's sacking, and moved inside to the echo of cheers.

She left amid murmurs of displeasure. Citizens for Democracy spokesperson Irene Wareing said concerned residents had expected more stick, more action in line with the CMC finding of a 2004 election corrupted by misinformation.

"We had hoped for more tough criticism of the points scoring that goes on in council. But we can expect more scrutiny of council in future," Ms Wareing said.

"The public has a long memory - the next election will be a telling one."

A comparative newcomer to the ranks, Cr Christine Robbins said she admired the way the minister had handled a difficult situation.

"There may not be hugs all round before our meetings, but I believe the minister's visit has cleared the air." Not so - as far as Cr Dawn Crichlow was concerned.

"Leopards don't change their spots and frankly I do not think the minister's visit will make all that much difference," Cr Crichlow said.



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