21 November 2008
Newcastle’s new conservative council this week decided – without notice – to privatise the city’s waste collection services.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, conservative councillor Aaron Buman successfully moved that the council defer purchasing three new garbage trucks and ‘market test our waste collection services by putting it through a competitive tendering process’.
“Putting something through a ‘competitive tendering’ process is the standard conservative euphemism for privatisation,” Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said.
Cr Buman’s motion was supported seven votes to six, with The Greens, the four Labor councillors, and the Lord Mayor opposed.
Cr Osborne said that some councillors did not appear – even after the decision – to realise that the resolution was the first step in the privatisation process.
“This is a huge issue, involving millions of dollars, and with serious environmental, industrial, and service quality implications. Cr Buman’s motion clearly went well outside the notified item (which concerned a tender for three trucks), and should have been ruled out of order by the chair.
“In what is already becoming a disturbing modus operandi of the conservative forces on the new council, the motion on this major issue was proposed without notice and with no relevant briefing or information,” Cr Osborne said.
“If the cowboy approach adopted by some conservative councillors continues, Newcastle residents will inevitably suffer, and Newcastle council will quickly become the laughing stock of the community and of local government in NSW.
“Public policy involves more than just turning thought bubbles into motions.
“These councillors are abrogating their duty as elected representatives in pursuit of personal political agendas.
“The Newcastle community deserves better from their elected representatives in serious public policy matters such as this, which require consideration of a whole range of factors that are not addressed by simply putting something through a competitive tendering process,” Cr Osborne said.