Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead told State Parliament he had spoken to MidCoast Council's general manager (Glenn Handford) and told him not to buy the Masters store and not to move there.
"I believe that the council should have maintained the campus situation and retained the offices in all those towns that make up the MidCoast Council area."
Mr Bromhead was speaking in Parliament to a petition gathered by the No MidCoast Council Move to Masters Group and containing 10,000 signatures. Members of the group where in parliament on August 8 when the petition was presented.
"However," he continued, "the council is made up of 11 democratically elected councillors. Every single one of them voted to buy the Masters store.
"They then had a gateway process for the move to the Masters store and each time, a majority of those councillors voted to continue on with that gateway. On the last occasion, nine out of 10 councillors voted in favour of it.
"I cannot tell them what to do and neither can the government when it comes to this move. Throughout this process I have also asked and written to the previous Minister for Local Government to review that council decision. That review was undertaken and the department said that there was nothing untoward and there were no adverse findings.
"Recently I organised for a meeting of Katrina Stanfield and Councillor Jan McWilliams, emeritus mayor and Local Government Woman of the Year on two occasions, to meet with the current Minister for Local Government, put their case and present a significant number of documents. Those documents have been reviewed and a review of the decision was again made, looking at what the council had provided and looking at what Katrina Stanfield had provided. The decision was that they found no breach of the legislation.
"We are now in a position where we have 11 democratically elected council legislators who have made a decision through a gateway process and who could have voted against it at any time. We have had two reviews by the Office of Local Government.
"At some point the community and I have to make a decision: Do we keep on opposing something for opposition's sake or do we support our council and make it the best council we can? That is the position we are in now.
"I do not like their decision but I think I now have to support it because they represent us. We put them in the place to make the decisions. They are the ones that legally make those decisions and therefore I think that we really should get behind them now...Myall Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead
"I do not like their decision but I think I now have to support it because they represent us. We put them in the place to make the decisions. They are the ones that legally make those decisions and therefore I think that we really should get behind them now, even though we do not like this decision.
"We should get behind them, support them and make sure that they can continue on and that we make the best of the situation - as I said, make this the very best council that we can. There are so many great things the council is doing, but at the same time they do make mistakes. As a government, we have made mistakes as well."
Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren, Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock and The Greens' Jamie Parker also spoke to the petition.
"The member for Myall Lakes and I rarely agree on anything," shadow minister Greg Warren said. "But he was right when he said his government makes mistakes.
"It was a mistake to forcibly merge that council and the many other councils around the State. We know that it was bound by ignorance and a dictatorial attitude.
"This is the situation that the ratepayers of MidCoast Council now face. Make no mistake - this matter is a direct outcome of those forced mergers that were imposed upon councils by the government."
Minister Shelley Hancock said she has asked that the Office of Local Government to closely monitor MidCoast Council in light of the concerns expressed by the community.
"Ultimately the community will hold their elected representatives to account for the decisions that have been made. All parties involved need to listen to each other and work together to ensure the best outcome for the region is found so the council can best serve the community and represent its views now and for years to come."
Greens MP Jamie Parker said: "Something is very wrong with the MidCoast Council. Either they are not communicating well or this decision is something that should not proceed. The petition makes it clear that there should be a moratorium on the project for the term of the inquiry - something that The Greens support."
Christine Stanton, a member of the No MidCoast Council Move to Masters, said the group has called on Mr Bromhead to ask council for a confidential report it believed had been circulated on the council consolidation at Biripi Way.
"In the meantime we shall work hard to ensure that our community's voice is heard in the Upper House. The door is still open and we won't stop until we have gone through it," Mrs Stanton said.
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