Mobile phone blackspots and where council should invest – Kyogle Council September meeting

Susanna Freymark

Here is the summary of the Kyogle Council meeting on Monday, September 11.

The public gallery was full which is unusual – normally only two or three people attend council meetings. Because of the council election of the mayor and deputy mayor there were about 20 people in attendance.

Two residents spoke at the beginning of the meeting about the election of the mayor and deputy mayor. Lyn Parker from Woodenbong and Narelle Gottring from Bonalbo urged councillors to vote for Councillor Danielle Mulholland.

What they said and how the voting went can be read here.

Damn you, phone blackspots

Ms Mulholland said there were still blackspots in Kyogle LGA.

“It concerns me coming into a hot summer,” she said.

Our aging infrastructure has never been addressed and in a disaster we rely on telecommunications to contact emergency services, Ms Mulholland said.

Speculation is also rife that a recent agreement between Telstra, Optus and Elon Musk’s Starlink will see a potential reduction in infrastructure investment, she said.

She proposed council write to the relevant ministers and ask for a federal investigation of this.

Council general manager Graham Kennett said the council had mapped communication blackspots and met and shared them with telcos.

“Replacement of 4G to 5G is coming soon and that will improve things marginally,” Mr Kennett said.

“Telcos are deficient in their plans to improve the network.

“Telcos have a plan to increase customers to make more money.”

They don’t have a plan to help rural communities in times of emergency, he said.

Council is rolling out a satellite communication system for the halls.

Mayor Kylie Thomas said council was applying for grants for halls to be emergency ready.

Councillors agreed with the motion to write to ministers about this issue.

Where should council invest its (our) money?

Councillor Maggie May wants council to invest more heavily with banks that do not invest in fossil fuel industries.

A copy of the Byron Shire investment policy was included for councillors to view.

Mr Kennett gave a detailed explanation about council’s current investments.

The main areas we differ from Byron is that we stick with higher credit ratings such as A and A+, he said.

“It’s all about risk. It’s public money. The lower the credit rating the more risk.”

SunCorp is the only “shining light” among the seven major banks in terms of ethical investments.

Council invests 36% of its money with SunCorp.

“We are doing the maximum permissible under the policy we have,” Mr Kennett said.

Council’s investment policy can be reassessed or changed at any time in a workshop, he said.

Councillor James Murray said he could not support the motion on ethical investment put forward by Ms May.

“Fossil fuels are a driver of our economy,” he said.

“Good economic planning is to spread the risk through many banks.

“Are we going to support lithium mining at Plains Station Rd? How far do we go with this?”

Ms May said, “the risk to our community and our way of life and structure of society are huge because of climate change”.

“This is one small way to reduce it.”

Council’s works program were included in the meeting. Read them here.

In-person vs Zoom

Mr Murray wants councillors to attend meetings in person 75% of the time.

“It’s a relatively new thing – this Zoom thing,” Mr Murray said.

“At the moment, councillors putting minimal effort into council are rewarded as much as those who put in a bigger effort,” Mr Murray wrote in the motion on the topic.

“Councillors making phone calls, texting or sleeping during council meetings as well as neglecting to attend workshops and meetings repeatedly shows a dereliction of duty.”

Corporate services executive manager Marcus Schintler said to change the policy it would need to be discussed in a workshop, changes made to the policy and then it would have to go on public exhibition.

This is a usual process for changes proposed to council’s policies.

Controlling roaming cats

Ms Mulholland wants to see more done to reduce the damage cats do to wildlife. Read that story here.

Sit on the red bench

Tabulam has a red bench; Kyogle has two outside the hospital.

The bright, red, sturdy benches are aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence.

Mallanganee Progress Association president approached Ms Mulholland about having a red bench at Everson Park in Mallanganee.

The cost of erecting a bench would come from the existing Parks and Gardens budget.

This motion was passed.

Confidential

Council then closed the meeting to the public to discuss three topics in confidence.

These topics were:

Clarence Way Woodenbong to Urbenville legal matter

The tender for the supply of a hydraulic excavator

The tender for a flood recovery resource panel.

Read the meeting agenda and attachments here.

The council meeting is also podcast and can be listened to here.

Read more stories about Kyogle Council here.

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