Trish Doyle and Shayne Mallard trade verbal blows over moves to suspend council

Moves by the State Government to suspend Blue Mountains City Council are a “nakedly political witch-hunt against a democratically elected council”, according to Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle.

The Labor MP said the government had launched the surprise action as “a distraction from their own woes”.

Ms Doyle said council’s handling of asbestos management was a serious concern that was was already being investigated

“I am relieved to hear that inspectors from SafeWork NSW are investigating a number of asbestos reports across the Blue Mountains,” she said. “Clearly these problems have existed for many years, they predate the current councillors’ term of office, and it is important that a plan is established for the removal or management of asbestos at these sites to ensure the safety of workers and members of the community who visit.

“An investigation was underway into why these matters took so long to come to light. That investigation should be allowed to run its course and we must insist on procedural fairness for all involved. Instead, we have an incompetent, unpopular and hapless state government deciding to launch a nakedly political witch-hunt against a democratically elected council as a distraction from their own woes.”

But Upper House Liberal MP and and Katoomba resident Shayne Mallard condemned Blue Mountains Council over its failure to manage the risk of asbestos in the community.

“Blue Mountains Council has spent more time, more money and more energy playing politics over Western Sydney airport than they have managing their serious asbestos risk in the community,” he said.

He attacked Ms Doyle for not speaking out on the issue earlier.

“Unusually for whinging Trish Doyle there has been not one word of criticism of the council or her close Labor friends over this serious scandal,” he said.

“I call upon Labor’s Trish Doyle to support the show cause notice and condemn her Labor council mates for endangering the health and lives of her constituents.”

A former South Sydney and City of Sydney councillor, Mr Mallard  said the “responsibility for a systemic and long term failure like this rests with the council”.

“We elect them to take care of our community. We pay high rates to have a professional organisation. Putting the health and lives of children, residents and council workers at risk is a clear fundamental failure by the council,” he said.

Ms Doyle responded: “Mr Mallard might have been a councillor in a former life, but he clearly needs to sit in on some Year 10 civics lessons to brush up on the details. Councillors don’t have operational control of the day-to-day functions of council. That’s the case at every council across New South Wales. Councillors set policy, they can hire or fire the general manager but they are at arm’s length from operational matters such as this.”