Hopes that Blue Mountains City councillors would have a harmonious 2013 were thrown into disarray last week when Liberal councillor Brendan Christie took a stand on numerous issues including when Australia was first recognised as a nation and a proposal to mine coal seam gas in the Mountains by an Aboriginal group.
Some councillors privately told the Gazette they found the motions smacked of “unnecessary party politics” deeming them “anti-Aboriginal”.
Clr Christie ruffled feathers when he sent around a memo to all the councillors prior to the meeting suggesting “that this council note, and recognise, that the 26th of January of this year marked the 225th anniversary of the landing of the first fleet, the raising of the flag at Sydney cove and the birth of this great nation, Australia”.
One councillor said it “ignores that there were many nations here before then (and) 60,000 years of culture”.
The minute was later re-worded by the mayor to “recognise and respect the traditional owners”.
“The mayor’s version was a relief to us,” another councillor said.
Clr Christie said far from being anti-Aboriginal, there were a “range of different versions of the (Australia Day) motion put forward by a number of different councillors. “I, like the rest of the council, was happy with the final version that appeared in the Mayoral Minute. I embrace Australia’s rich and diverse history and I respect the traditional owners of the land on which we live.”
“I also seconded that Mayoral Minute.”
Clr Christie also asked the council to write to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council expressing opposition to coal seam gas exploration generally and especially in the Blue Mountains.
The Upper and Mid- Mountains are now under threat from coal seam gas exploration after the NSW Aboriginal Land Council applied to explore for CSG, as part of 119 applications by the indigenous councils to explore for CSG under 40 per cent of the state.
Greens councillor Geordie Willamson said he was grateful the councillor gave him the opportunity to respond.
“This is hard, for a decade and a half now NSW Land Council has had to be self-funding ... so I understand and appreciate why they may be tempted into these devil’s pacts but it really doesn’t matter if you are black or white or anything else.
“I will be supporting Councillor Christie with those caveats,” he said.
The move was then carried unanimously.
In another moment of discord, a bid by Clr Robert Stock, seconded by Clr Geordie Williamson to air some of council’s dirty linen —namely a council business paper involving council’s “investment advisory services” —was knocked back by the council with Clr Greenhill telling the council it would be foolish to ignore legal advice suggesting some matters remain confidential.