Blue Mountains mayor promises a safer council in asbestos management crackdown

Mayor Mark Greenhill has promised a more safety-conscious and open council following the state government’s crackdown over its management of asbestos.

“What’s important that’s come out of this is we have an organisation that’s safer. We minimise the risk of further generations inhaling this poisonous stuff,” Cr Greenhill said.

At Thursday night’s extraordinary council meeting, Blue Mountains councillors voted unanimously to accept the performance improvement order issued by local government minister Gabrielle Upton.

The meeting had been expected to be fiery as earlier Liberal councillor Brendan Christie had urged the minister to suspend the council for six months, saying “asbestos in many ways is symptomatic of a council that needs large scale renewal at the operational level, and the most effective way to deliver that renewal is through the appointment of a temporary administrator.”

But with Cr Christie not in attendance, as well as Liberal Daniel Myles and Greens councillor Brent Hoare, there was little opposition around the table to the mayoral minute responding to the performance improvement order.

Greens councillor Kerry Brown suggested amendments, concerned the response was shifting away from what the minister wanted, but Cr Greenhill assured her this wasn’t the case.

She also said councillors did not have a copy of the terms of reference for council’s investigation into the allegations of staff recruitment and tendering irregularities. Cr Greenhill said this would be dealt with in a resolution at the next council meeting.

Cr Brown said that councillors and staff are now receiving regular written updates on asbestos management from the acting general manager Rosemary Dillon.

“I am very impressed that Dr Dillon is seeking to go beyond the measures required by the minister and will next month propose further ways that council’s workplace culture and inter-departmental relations and processes can be improved,” Cr Brown said. 

“I read this as Dr Dillon’s intention to make the council a friendlier, kinder more open organisation. She will have my total support.”

Ms Upton announced the performance improvement order on December 22, stopping short of a threat to suspend council for its management of asbestos throughout the Blue Mountains.

“We’ve got a serious issue in this city and we have to get it right. We have to have an organisation that can deal with and handle asbestos,” Cr Greenhill told Thursday night’s meeting.

“If nothing else the joint is better than what is was at the beginning. It feels safer for workers and they are more able to speak out than they did at the beginning.”

Cr Greenhill said the council had already initiated an independent inquiry to investigate the matters raised.


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