IN OUR Local Government Act (LGA) there are about 800 sections but there is only one section whereby the ratepayers can have a say and be legally included, and that is section 734.
Section 734 says the people can “require” the council to set up a public hearing, select a panel of consultants to answer their questions, the results of which must be made public, but more importantly, the councils are obliged to then act upon the findings of the panel.
In other words, it binds council to the “panel’s” findings.
Section 734 is a people’s instrument, guaranteed by the LG A as a safety valve against tyranny.
Section 734 is democracy at work. Those who either oppose it or try to complicate it are turning there backs on the people.
Questions like “Will the council support me if I close my gate when a gas rig tries to enter my freehold land?”
Or “Will the council put a stop work order on a coal mine that pollutes the air with coal dust?”
Or “Will the government make a gas company guarantee that our underground water systems are not at risk from contamination?”
These are questions on the lips of ratepayers that were not either asked or, more importantly, not answered correctly in the state
submissions report held here in Narrabri last year. The fact that this report is now gathering dust in some pigeon-hole is bad enough but we have now gone to the next stage and are being told we have to accept a “Strategic Plan”. This strategic plan means we are one step closer to losing our property rights.
Last week I moved a motion to facilitate a public hearing. It was seconded and five minutes into the debate the mayor ruled me “out of order”. This motion was on council’s agenda for a fortnight before the meeting last Tuesday and scrutinised by the general manager and apparently found to be in order.
Desperate times have apparently called for desperate measures.