An extraordinary meeting of council has been called for Wednesday, January 18, following the receipt of two rescission motions relating to the Hotel Australasia in Eden and the Safe Schools Program.
My suspicion is this is a motion, not for the community but for others who are interested in acquiring a piece of land at a very good, bargain basement price and I am not willing to be part of it until everything has been fully explored.
During a five and a half hour council meeting in December, councillors resolved to go to open tender, following a request for expressions of interest (EOI) in the hotel. Five EOIs were received and councillor Robyn Bain had pressed for a closed tender that would see only the the five EOIs move to the next stage, but was unsuccessful following the late night confidential session.
Cr Robyn Bain with the support of councillors Tony Allen and Russell Fitzpatrick lodged a rescission motion prior to Christmas.
The issue hangs on whether only the five interested parties should be allowed to tender for the hotel or whether it should be open to any organisation interested.
There is general agreement that the last meeting suffered from lack of time to debate the issues despite its length.
Mayor Kristy McBain said the hotel was a contentious issue, and all councillors should have the time to fully express their views.
Councillor Mitchell Nadin agreed: “We all want the same things, the building restored and the laneway in council’s possession.”
But councillor Sharon Tapscott said she was concerned about transparency.
“My suspicion is this is a motion, not for the community but for others who are interested in acquiring a piece of land at a very good, bargain basement price and I am not willing to be part of it until everything has been fully explored,” Cr Tapscott said.
Peter Whiter of Eden’s Australasia group said the delays were very stressful for the community group but was keen to see an open and transparent debate, and tender should that be the end result.
The meeting will also debate a rescission motion on the Safe Schools Program which attained a 5-4 resolution of support in December.
The concept of Kristy’s alternate motion is to find common ground and the motion she has put up will do that.
The Safe Schools Coalition Australia aims at creating safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Following a passionate debate in council a rescission motion was lodged by councillor Russell Fitzpatrick with support from councillors Tony Allen and Mitchell Nadin.
Cr Kristy McBain has an alternate motion, of a more general nature, which she hopes will form the common ground for councillors.
“I think everyone is in agreement that anti-bullying measures are important. There are no safe places and bullying continues on social media. It’s about time we stepped up and helped educate,” Cr Kristy McBain said.
“There’s no point in being hardheaded about the subject that needs general support in the community; we need to take the politics out,” she added.
Cr Nadin, who helped to formulate the alternate motion agreed.
“The concept of Kristy’s alternate motion is to find common ground and the motion she has put up will do that,” he said.
The motion acknowledges the demise of government funding for the program but asks for support at all levels for anti-bullying programs for schools particularly for those in the LGBTQI community.
Councillor Tapscott is also backing the alternate motion and said she hopes it will take the heat out of the argument.
“Safe Schools has been a political football and that has been to the disadvantage of the very people we are trying to protect. This will show the community that council cares about under represented groups and what happens to them and that we are willing to try to influence decision making and funding,” Cr Tapscott said.
She particularly would like to see that matter dealt with before schools return after the summer holidays.
In the original vote on support for the Safe Schools Program councillors Kristy McBain, Sharon Tapscott, Jo Dodds, Cathy Griff and Liz Seckold voted for the motion with councillors Robyn Bain, Mitchell Nadin, Russell Fitzpatrick and Tony Allen voting against the motion.