21 May 2010
Newcastle City Council is burying its head in the sand on the potential impact of coal on the community and the role and responsibilities of local government, according to Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne.
The council this week rejected Councillor Osborne’s call for a scoping report that would examine the potential impact of planned massive increases in coal transport through the Newcastle local government area.
Councillor Osborne was the only councillor to vote in favour of the motion.
“It’s a depressing indicator of just how far away from reality the current council has drifted,” Councillor Osborne said.
“My motion pointed out that the massive and unprecedented increase in coal exports planned for the port of Newcastle has direct implications for council (in terms of infrastructure maintenance, traffic management, and planning), but the other councillors demonstrated that they would rather not even know about what these impacts might be.
“It was a classic case of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’,” he said.
“This just reinforces the unfortunate and increasing perception in the local community that this council gives a higher priority to personal in-fighting than it does to issues of real importance,” Councillor Osborne said.
“Some of the comments from councillors during the debate were extraordinary,” he said.
“One councillor (Clr Scott Sharpe) went so far as to claim that coal had no impact on the Newcastle community!
“I get a very different impression from the people I talk to in my local community, who are concerned about dust, noise and vibration impacts from coal transport and coal loading operations,” Councillor Osborne said.
“It’s time that Newcastle councillors took a reality check and started dealing with the big public policy challenges that face our community,” Councillor Osborne said.