War of words

THE war of words over the looming Tweed Shire Council inquiring has stepped up, with Tweed MP Neville Newell launching an astonishing attack on opponents of the inquiry.

Mr Newell slammed organisers of a pro-council rally held on Tuesday night, saying it was motivated by greedy Tweed landowners.

"It is well known that Neville Newell, as the Member for Tweed, and the State Labor Government stand between them and their squalid attempts to cover the productive Cudgen farmland with their Gold Coast-style housing estates and give them a massive but short-term windfall from their land," Mr Newell said.

He said the rally, attended by about 250 people, was purely an attempt to whip up political discontent against him.

But Coffs Harbour MP and shadow local government minister Andrew Fraser said the inquiry was politically motivated and Mr Newell should not become involved as he had a conflict of interest.

Mr Fraser was one of a number of speakers at the rally, and said those who were there were concerned about what the state government was doing.

"People were asking simply, what is democracy all about," Mr Fraser said.

"They were saying, this council has just been elected but the state government wants to sack it. Why? We can vote (on their performance) in four years time.

"If the minister has clear evidence of corruption he should get rid of this million-dollar-plus inquiry and refer everything to the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) which is funded to run such inquiries," he said.

Mr Newell yesterday rejected Mr Fraser's claims and said the rally was purely an attempt to whip up political discontent against him.

"Commissioner Daly's inquiry has been turned into a political smokescreen to cover an ulterior agenda," Mr Newell said.

"It is very easy to see this rally as a panic reaction to Commissioner Daly's inquiry, however the organisers clearly have other motives and deserve nothing but contempt."

Mr Newell said claims by Mr Fraser of a conflict of interest on his part were "just rubbish".

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