Councillor accuses mayor of electioneering at meeting
AT least one councillor thought there was too much electioneering happening at the last Livingstone Shire Council meeting.
Cr Glenda Mather challenged Mayor Bill Ludwig last Tuesday as he spoke about the council’s quarterly budget review.
Here’s what Cr Ludwig said before Cr Mather pulled him up:
“We’ve had basically pretty good news all the way through the last six years with the way we’ve been tracking our finance.
“But the Q2 (budget review) actually brings home just how well we’ve done.
“How well we’ve done with the excellent work that we’ve had from both the finance department in their reporting, and also from the executive leadership team and the whole organisation.
“We knew that we had a stiff job in front of us in 2014 when we were shovelled across $81.2 million in total liability - $76.6(m) or something in debt plus the interim facility that we had to do to pay for the cost of de-amalgamation.
“We also know that when we interrogated that debt, there was probably about $25m to $30m that should not have come to Livingstone Shire but we had to suck that up.
“And we accepted that.
“But it’s worth telling the story so people appreciate just how well we’ve done to get to where we are with that burden that we got at the start.
“You know you don’t always get a good hand, but at least we got the opportunity to regain our independence.
“So if that cost us a bit, I think we’ve made up for it in the fact that we’ve got over $150 million in grants that we’ve been able to get because we’ve been independent with that.
“We’ve been able to fight very hard in a competitive field.
“And that is also reflected here in this Q2.
“But the important thing, and your hear time and time and time again - SMSs coming in and letters to the editor - that this table, these board of directors here and this council, has been racking up debt for those projects that we’ve built.
“Projects that have been growing our economy, encouraging people to stay here in difficult times, attracting new people to come and live here, and attracting and rebuilding our tourism industry at a time when the Iwasaki Sangyo Company closed and the main resort.
“I know that there’s plenty. Keppel Island has been alive and well but not performing at the level that it could of done with that.
“We had a conscious decision to not focus on reducing debt. We could have done that, but if we’d done that we wouldn’t have the lagoon.
“We would not have the other foreshore developments. We wouldn’t have the Barmaryee...”
Cr Ludwig didn’t finish that sentence because Cr Mather had heard enough and interjected saying: “Point of order, Mr Chairman, point of order Mr Chairman. This is not an election platform.”
The Mayor replied: “Councillor, you are out of order with your point of order. I am speaking the good news story and if you think that’s an election platform, I’ve been saying this at every budget.
“Every budget I’ve brought down. And this council, the councillors at the table, who have voted for just about every budget. I know that you haven’t, unfortunately.
“But the councillors who voted can hold their head high, that we followed course.
“And this course is reflected in this report card.
“This isn’t electioneering.
“This is a report card that comes out, half year, to say how well we’re going.
“Now I’ve got to commend because you don’t always get a half year report card that shows, by the way, we are reducing debt further than we anticipated.
“We have surpluses that we didn’t anticipate.”