Transparency Truth and Justice? …………………..The Brisbane Water Saga – Gosford NSW
The Saga began when the new Mayor Mr Lawrie McKinna , and according to his profile is passionate about soccer and has played in over 87 premier league games in Scotland. He has coached in the National Soccer League and was appointed the inaugural coach of the Central Coast Mariners in the Hyundai A-League – a role which he held for five seasons. He also coached teams in the Chinese Super League and was twice recognised as Australia’s Coach of the Year. In 2012, Mr McKinna stood for the Gosford City local government elections as an independent, securing a seat, and was elected as the Mayor of Gosford City for two years in a row. (Biography from Gosford Council’s website) he introduced his first Mayoral Minute a proposal to change the name Brisbane Water Estuary and The Broadwater to something that’ better reflected the Gosford Area’ and did not confuse it with Brisbane, a view he took after a social day at a BBQ. It is rumoured that the advice he took was from someone who had supported him with fundraising for his campaign when he stood for a State seat.
Photo from Daily Telegraph sited Google Maps.
The Mayor a former coach of The Mariners, and a current employee, resolved in 2013 at a Council meeting, that Council would vote to explore the motion; the Staff then proceeded with the process, with no public discussion or consultation. The Mayor promised to revitalise Gosford and said his friend said people confused the Brisbane Water Estuary with Brisbane. Following this the owner of The Mariners wrote to the General Manger seeking to rename the Broadwater, to create advertising for the Mariners. The problem then is that this matter is a conflict of interest for the Mayor.
The letter From the Mariners Management was supported by the new General Manger, now CEO, Paul Anderson, nephew of former Deputy Prime Minster Mr. John Anderson (Country Party). The Council advice to Councillors was to have the matter referred for action. The report sought to call Brisbane Water Estuary and The Broadwater, Mariners Cove with the view to honour the football team. Had this report been approved this would have resulted in a massive advertising for a private enterprise which is against the 1989 Act of Crown Land which is not in the best interests of the Community that Gosford Council serve.
Members of Crown Land Our Land were asked for their opinion on the process which was being used to achieve the renaming of the sites. The committee was of the opinion that the matter had been referred to the Minister for Local Government and mentioned requesting an Audit on NSW Crown Land in NSW, also that the Gosford Council Code of Conduct and Councillors Conflict of Interest which was attached to the communication to Council. Crown Land is not supposed to support private profit from community land.
Management and staff returned a report to Councillors without having any community consultation despite the fact that community members had written to Council expressing their concern. It now appears that council were in receipt of letters of concern; Council Staff appeared to have tried to navigate the effects of the reports by seeking to say the community would be consulted. The story does not end there.
A developer Mr Gunasinge, was contacted by the CEO of Council Paul Anderson (it seems without the knowledge of Councillors) to put up a proposal to build a popup village of twenty seven prefabricated units on the Land reserved for public recreation on the small strip of all that is left of Alfred Higgs Place (the safety exit for the Stadium), a narrow park on the edge of The Broadwater. It was originally called Waterside Park then named for Gosford Newspaper owner Alfred Higgs who lived near there. This should be a safety issue due to that area being put aside for the safety exit for a very long time.
Interestingly, having secured this private deal with the CEO, the developer now proposes to call the shopping village “Marina Cove”. The same developer appeared before ICAC and was cautioned by Council who they advised to seek advice from his solicitor.
He was one of the developers illegally contributing to MP Chris Hatcher’s slush fund now before the ICAC . An extract from his own statement he says he was hatching this idea for “nearly 2 years”, and soon after the Appointment of new CEO of Gosford Council Paul Anderson, he and Mayor McKinna, hosted a selected community briefing of six people at a French restaurant cocktail meeting, and CEO Paul Anderson said the developer had ordered some 12 shipping containers to place on that site, copying Christchurch in New Zealand
Meanwhile in Christchurch there is a legal discussion with a person from the United Kingdom who says shipping container conversion was his copyrighted idea. Mr Gunasinge’ s appears to have lodged a development application for the 27 prefabricated rectangles to be built on site, if the application is approved by Council.
Mayor McKinna was heard to say on ABC radio, says Development Application is a mere matter of form, as Gosford Councillors have already approved a 5+5+5year lease on basis of concept design, which has not dealt with either the environmental pollution ( acid sulphate soils and DDT) found in last environmental study, nor the obstruction of the Emergency fire exit from the stadium and the congestion of the proposed village just outside.
The Developer Mr Gunasinge’ says it will be up and running by September on his facebook site called Marina Cove https://www.facebook.com/marinacovegosford . The timeframe leads one to conclude he was negotiating with CEO Paul Anderson before the Hatcher slush fund scandal broke, and Minister for Crown Lands has apparently waived his responsibility to call for plan of Management from Gosford City Council on impact of proposal on reason why Crown Land was reserved in first place. Some pessimistic person could say that this happened at same time the State Government has a white paper out on handing Crown Land over to Local Government to do away with red tape.
June M Bullivant OAM
Crown Land Our Land