Revving up for council elections
CANDIDATES, start your engines. Get ready for one of the hardest-fought Tweed Shire Council elections. And that’s saying something. Last time round, in 2004, pro-development candidates took control of the council, then got themselves sacked by the state government for giving preference to developers against the wishes of residents. Before that, the 1999 election was a triumph for the so-called Balance team, also pro-development, after one of NSW’s dirtiest local-government campaigns, when lies, smears and misinformation were rampant. Campaigning for the upcoming council poll due in September is expected to begin in the next few months. Already, pro-development supporters, and their opponents, have been putting out feelers for candidates. The Tweed Sustainable Villages Alliance, of coastal and hinterland residents’ groups, is scheduled to meet next week, and the upcoming election is on the meeting agenda. Save Hastings Point spokeswoman Julie Boyd, an independent candidate in last year’s Tweed state election campaign, said she had not yet made up her mind if she would run for council. “We know developers and the sacked councillors are getting their people lined up, and we’ve got people we are trying to get enthused,” Ms Boyd said. “I still haven’t decided myself yet, the whole system is just so questionable, I’m quite disgusted with it all,” she said. “Yes, it is fixable, we’ve only got to look at the new federal government to see that, in terms of turning attitudes around.” Two young Tweed identities who last year enthusiastically declared they would be running for council at the 2008 poll, Young Liberal Luke Barnes and Richmond MP Justine Elliot’s staffer, lawyer Kylie Rose, recently indicated they may not run after all. Meanwhile, the NSW government has still not announced its response to recommendations from the Daly Inquiry which led to the sacking of Tweed Shire Council in 2005. Garry Payne, a Local Government Department director general and a Tweed Shire administrator, said last December a whole-of-government response was “reasonably close to completion”. The Daly Inquiry recommended sacked councillors be banned from seeking re-election and that candidates’ donations be publicly declared five days before an election.