Joan van Lieshout
Joan van Lieshout

Boys 'don't want a woman mayor'

TWEED Mayor Joan van Lieshout says she is not worried some other councillors are threatening to vote her out of the top job, adding she performs well “in a crisis”.

And she claims part of the campaign against her is simply because she is a woman.

Cr van Lieshout yesterday said criticism of her attempt to have council general manager Mike Rayner resign from his position on the board of Rally Australia was an attempt by councillors who never supported her to make her “a lame duck”.

“One day is a long time in politics and sadly local government has become political,” Cr van Lieshout said in response to warnings she will be tossed out when councillors hold an annual vote for mayor in September.

“Who knows what will happen in three months,” she added. “I know from personal life things can change overnight. Never take anything for granted.

“I come good in a crisis.”

This week other councillors rallied behind Mr Rayner's refusal to stand down from his board position with Rally Australia which has State Government approval to hold a world championship car rally in the Tweed and Kyogle shires in September.

Earlier Cr van Lieshout had revealed she asked him to quit the rally job because she believed it created a conflict of interest. Mr Rayner instead sought the opinion of other councillors, with the majority backing him.

Cr Phil Youngblutt said the Mayor had “overstepped the mark”; Cr Warren Polglase warned she was “a lame-duck mayor” and the Council was “dysfunctional”; Cr Dot Holdom declined to criticise Cr van Lieshout, but warned major decisions had to be made together by the Council.

“Mr Youngblutt has always been rude to me. I wonder if he likes women at all,” said Cr van Lieshout.

“I didn't think twice about being a woman.... When I got in it shocked everybody.”

Cr van Lieshout said far from being dysfunctional councillors were simply “all different” because they were “elected by different parts of the community”.

She said the attacks were an attempt to make her a “lame duck” and she was aware that “Cr Holdom said we will put her in the sin bin and make her a lame duck”.

Cr Holdom denied having made such a remark.

Cr van Lieshout said she was “disappointed with my colleagues that they do not give respect to my position”.

“I respect them as councillors,” she added. “If they don't respect the position why does everybody want my job?”

Cr van Lieshout was elected mayor last September as the only person nominated for the job. The nomination came from Cr Barry Longland and Greens Party councillor Katie Milne. Her “conservative” colleagues, councillors Polglase, Youngblutt and Kevin Skinner did not support her. Neither did “independent” Dot Holdom.

Cr Milne yesterday said she supported the Mayor's “right to ask” Mr Rayner to resign from the rally board and “her right to express her opinion publicly”.

“There is no benefit that I can see of having Mike on the board,” Cr Milne said. "Mike could have voluntarily stepped aside from this position... and saved the Council a lot of controversy.”

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