Greens demand a return to democracy

The Central Coast Greens demand that the Minister for Local Government, Wendy Tuckerman, return the right of residents of the Central Coast to democratically elect our councillors.

The June 1 announcement by Tuckerman and parliamentary secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch to continue administration of our Council until September 2024 was met with universal surprise and disbelief on the Central Coast.

Initially, residents were led to believe that two years of administration plus a lengthy public inquiry were adequate. In fact, according to the administrator Rik Hart, the troubled financial affairs of the Central Coast Council have now substantially been addressed.

AT THE SAME MEETING, council CEO David Farmer reported that the “Council is on track to forecast a year-end surplus for the 2021-22 financial year as indicated in the Quarter 3 Business Report.” Surprisingly, in their statement, Tuckerman and Crouch claim that the administrator and CEO require more time to ‘complete the reforms necessary to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the Council’.

The minister knows that a five-year term following a period of administration is an acceptable solution to avoid the cost of holding two elections in two consecutive years. Shellharbour and Wollongong Councils implemented a five-year term solution in 2011. The minister has no reason why this solution is unavailable to the Central Coast. Only one election is needed to restore Councillors to our Council, and that election should be held sooner rather than later.

Jamie Parker, the Greens Local Government spokesperson said:

“If the Minister succeeds in delaying the election until 2024, the Central Coast will have been without Councillors for four years. Four years is too long to wait for local people to get a democratically elected voice back on their council.”

“We’re calling on NSW Labor to commit to bringing this election forward if they win government in March 2023.”

Since the announcement by Tuckerman and Crouch, many signatures for a resident’s petition to have the minister reconsider her decision have accumulated. The Greens support this grassroots initiative by residents and encourage the minister to review her decision urgently. To suspend an elected government requires exceptional circumstances. The Greens contend that exceptional circumstances no longer exist at Central Coast Council and that Tuckerman must return the normal governance by elected Councillors at the earliest practicable occasion.

Central Coast residents are concerned that controversial new developments without any supporting infrastructure and an attempt to sell off our Central Coast Water entity may go ahead in the additional two years under an appointed administrator.

The Greens strongly affirm that government by elected representatives remains the preferred and expected situation for all forms of government in Australia.