Letter to the Editor: GTCC General Manager responds to SRV article

Dear Editor

I wish to respond to your front page article titled “Who Understands The SRV” in the January 2016 edition of the Manning Community News. Given your publication advertised the consultation on the SRV in 2015 it seems odd that you would publish an article that is consistently inaccurate without at least asking some questions of Council. You are welcome to call me anytime if you want anything clarified. I note your publication does not name the authors of articles and that lack of transparency opens the publication to merely being an opinion piece with readers not even knowing whose opinion it is they are reading.

I make the following points about the article:

The article questions the need for an SRV but more than 80% of locals consider the condition of local roads is unsatisfactory.

The statement “Do we all know and understand how our council spent the last rate rise” can be easily answered as previous rate rises are quarantined and reported on with all expenditure going to infrastructure – this is reported quarterly. This will be the case for the proposed SRV.

The statement “There was no consultation or briefings or a council workshop to discuss details. That there were no costings (sic) and details were vague” is incorrect. Detailed information was provided to councillors at Council Workshops and Council Meetings.

The statement  “GTCC councillors (sic) were not permitted to comment on the rate rise prior to the application to IPART” is incorrect. There is nothing to prevent Councillors commenting. The Manning River Times has recorded the views of a number of Councillors and some were present to speak first hand with ratepayers throughout the consultation period.

The statement “GTCC concerned Councillors (sic) worry that an increased rate rise will put pressure on struggling ratepayers and there is no accountability or guarantees as to how the money will be used” is disingenuous as it is the Councillors who determine this and there is a robust, detailed expenditure plan in place and publicly available.

The statement “Yet our neighbouring councils seem to benefit from the efforts of their state and federal members” implies GTCC has not benefited when the facts are that GTCC has been more successful in grant funding applications in the past 4 years than any neighbouring councils.

The article asks how long since GTCC has had a ministerial visit. The answer is one week along with several ministerial visits in 2015. Therefore to state “One has to assume GTCC has zero credibility in the corridors of power” shows the ignorance of the author and reinforces that question above about the author being identified in your paper.

The statement “… council was also obliged to return a large chunk to government coffers” has no basis in fact. No money has been returned to “government coffers”.

The statement “A good job on the council staff can pay 200,000 – 300,000 a year” is misleading. The vast majority of council employees earn less than $80,000 a year and are local ratepayers.

In summary, the article is highly inaccurate, grammatically poor, without author and does not meet any journalistic standard.



Ron Posselt
General Manager GTCC

Editor’s Response:

On Mr Posselt’s “lack of transparency” charge due to the author of the January edition’s article not being named:  See disclaimer at bottom of the article, and see back of the paper for names of Editor/publisher/and contributors.

On Mr Posselt’s denial of the article’s point about government funding to the GTCC: See following earlier remarks by Dr David Gillespie, the Federal Member for Lyne and Rob Oakeshott, the former Federal Member for Lyne.

“….Dr Gillespie said he has viewed the Freedom of Information documents applied for by Cr Robyn Jenkins.…and these documents clearly highlight the fact that council had no agreement in place, despite the former government promising funding as far back as 2010.

. . .“When that commitment was made in 2010, if I was Council, I would have been holding the former Member and the Labor government to account soon after. When no specific funding was allocated towards the project in the 2011 Budget, I would have been screaming the house down. And in 2012, when Council was only offered $1.1-million instead of the $12.5-million apparently promised, I would have begun protesting in the streets.”….

“It is now becoming clearer that council dropped the ball in holding the former government to account in delivering on its election promises.”

(Extract from media release from Dr David Gillespie Feb. 2014)

In the Port Macquarie News April 22 2013  – Comment from Rob Oakeshott “Use it or Lose It”

… Mr Oakeshott said he was particularly concerned about the Manning Valley where road, bridge and airport projects could be vulnerable.

“A lot of money has been confirmed for Taree but it can’t be handed over until the Commonwealth is satisfied the required preliminary work has been completed.

“If the money doesn’t exchange hands soon, I can’t guarantee a future government will honour the existing commitments.”

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