I feel compelled to write in response to Cr Hill and Cr McEwen’s letter to the editor last week.
My practise up until this moment is that I have tried to be collegiate in my approach to council’s decisions, in contrast to the two writers of frequent letters to the press.
South Gippsland Shire Council’s position on supporting its community’s concerns on coal seam gas is very clear.
There have been two resolutions in June and July 2012.
Please note that Cr Fawcett and I were the initial mover and seconder of June 2012 Council resolution.
I would urge all readers to refer to them via our website.
Council has put forward its concerns to the industry and related governing bodies in relation to coal seam gas and met with government regulators on a number of occasions.
It has received briefings from officers and from the mining industry on the matter.
The council has also supported an appeal for the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) to advocate on behalf of councils to various government bodies regarding the concerns local government has with coal seam gas.
Furthermore, the council has requested the national association raise this issue at the federal level.
Council, in its advocacy role, is here to support the community in its pleas to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to be judicious and protective of our environmental and economic resources.
It is important to note that the council has no statutory planning decision making powers in relation to mining exploration licences – the State Government is the decision making body.
The council continues to gather as much knowledge and information on the issue to ensure we are best placed to support our community.
At each stage, the council has promoted the need for stakeholder and community engagement to ensure our communities receive the facts they require about activities in their area, their rights and the regulatory process.
It is important to the council that concerned residents and landowners are provided with satisfactory detail to understand the work the council has been undertaking in relation to coal seam gas.
This matter continues to be at the forefront of many council discussions.
Cr Hill and Cr McEwen try to bully their way through most discussions and issues before council.
They rarely accept the majority decision of council.
Is that democracy at work?
They continue to revisit the decisions either through the media or subsequent council meetings. They are not prepared to work with other councillors in a collegiate manner.
The decision at the July meeting was not about council’s position on coal seam gas.
The decision was not to accept a poorly worded motion as urgent business that other councillors and officers were given an hour to consider, when normal protocols give days or weeks to consider motions.
It was decided by the majority that this was not an urgent motion.
Cr Hill and Cr McEwen continued their campaign via the media.
A report will be considered by the council in its August meeting and this will provide council the opportunity to review the current situation and once again confirm its position regarding coal seam gas.
For more information, type South Gippsland Shire Council’s position on coal seam gas into Google.
To be effective in our advocacy, we need to a considered and strategic approach to coal seam gas, not a scattergun approach.
To set the record straight on my position; I believe we should be sending a strong message to all levels of government that we need to invest in renewable energy, not coal seam gas.
Cr Mohya Davies, Coastal Promontory Ward, South Gippsland Shire Council.