COUNCIL CHAMBERS: SDRC’s ordinary meeting this week saw heated debate among councillors.
COUNCIL CHAMBERS: SDRC’s ordinary meeting this week saw heated debate among councillors.

HIGH STAKES: Tensions flare in SDRC meeting

Tensions ran high in this week’s ordinary meeting at Southern Downs Regional Council, with several issues sparking heated debate.

The first point of contention at the Wednesday meeting came within the first half-hour, when Mayor Vic Pennisi and councillor Stephen Tancred both declared a potential conflict of interest in relation to a confidential agenda item.

Revealing the closed discussion would relate to the sale of land at Emu Swamp Dam, Cr Pennisi was adamant he had no ties to the project that would influence the council’s decision.

“I often question, what is my conflict – where do I gain an advantage in relation to this particular project?” he said,

“I feel that I can bring to this project more than most people sitting around the table, (as) a lot of people sitting around the table or in the room wouldn’t have the intimate knowledge of the project that I have.”

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While the Mayor’s position was supported by councillors Andrew Gale and Jo McNally, councillor Cynthia McDonald was not convinced.

“I received an email from (CEO Dave Burges) on December 15, and it spoke about the 24 entities involved … we still don’t have, at this point, disclosure as to who those people are,” Cr McDonald said.

“We speak about transparency as a council, and further to what I spoke about earlier … I’ll say it again, I would like to see the names of those identities before we know whether there is a conflict of interest.”

The debate raged on among councillors, with Crs Gale and Tancred joined by Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley in advocating for the full discussion.

Crs Bartley, Gale, McNally, and Sheryl Windle eventually voted for the Mayor and Cr Tancred to remain in the room, outvoting Crs Gliori and McDonald.

Tensions flared once more only an hour later, this time over a motion to deny the renaming of Daverley St in Maryvale to Ramsay St.

Cr Gliori was the only representative in favour of the agenda item, believing it a waste of time and expense on a street that could be developed and changed again in the next few years.

With no other councillor willing to support keeping the original name, the table eventually altered the motion and unanimously approved the new Ramsay St name.

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