Warren Polglase is back in the driver's seat in Tweed Shire Council.
Warren Polglase is back in the driver's seat in Tweed Shire Council. Tweed Daily News

Polglase fourth time lucky

TWEED councillor Warren Polglase is back as mayor in a lucky “birthday prize” just four years after his council was controversially sacked by the NSW Labor Government.

Cr Polglase was late yesterday chosen as Tweed mayor in a draw from a brown cardboard box after a tied vote for the top job with former deputy mayor Barry Longland.

It was fourth time lucky for the long-term councillor. In the past he has lost three times in draws from a blue plastic bucket after tied votes with previous mayor Max Boyd.

Yesterday was also his 68th birthday - with his success promptly winning a joint congratulations-and-birthday kiss from wife Karlene.

The promotion gave him a $33,840-a-year pay rise - up to just over $50,000 from the normal councillor's pay of $15,500.

Outgoing mayor Joan van Lieshout, who earlier conceded she did not have the numbers to hold the job, refused to vote. In a brief speech she said she was refraining from voting “in order to uphold integrity”.

That left six councillors - Phil Youngblutt and Kevin Skinner backing Cr Polglase, and Dot Holdom and Katie Milne supporting Cr Longland.

Following set rules, the council's general manager Mike Rayner put both names in “a receptacle”- a brown Visy-brand cardboard box, then drew out Cr Polglase's name.

It was a repeat of the tied council votes of the 1990s but then Cr Polglase lost three times to former mayor Max Boyd in draws from a blue plastic bucket.

“The box is a lot luckier than the bucket - I can assure you of that,” said Cr Polglase moments later.

“The bucket has been made redundant.”

The new deputy mayor, Fernvale farmer and fruit stall operator Phil Youngblutt, who was Murwillumbah Business Chamber president until standing down this year, also won in a draw from the Visy box.

With Cr van Lieshout still absent, Cr Youngblutt was backed for the deputy's job by Cr Polglase and Cr Skinner. Cr Longland was supported by Cr Milne and Cr Holdom.

Cr Polglase quickly dismissed suggestions he had previously been aligned with developers, leading to the sacking of his council and its replacement with administrators in 2005.

“People elect governments, not governments elect governments,” he declared, adding that many Tweed voters were “not happy” with the state government's interference and the 12 major recommendations of the Daly Inquiry into the former council had “never been carried out”.

“They had no substance,” he said.

Cr Polglase added he hoped all councillors could now “work together despite political differences”.

“I would just like to see the creation of jobs,” he said. “The bottom line is jobs for our kids.”

But he then added: “There are times we will clash with other groups”.

Cr Polglase promised less secrecy in a council led by him.

“I've never been involved in that sort of thing,” he said.

“We are not Freemasons or the Buffs (members of the Buffalo Lodge).”

Chairing the council meeting Cr Polglase quickly made it clear meeting rules should be strictly followed.

He warned one interjector from the public gallery, who shouted at councillors “you have the mind of a cockroach”, that he would be removed if he persisted.

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