2 April 2024

'I don't recall this ever happening': Lack of present councillors leads to delay on phone tower decision

| Jarryd Rowley
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Optus mobile tower

The decision on whether a new Optus mobile tower will be built at Lake Albert has been delayed after four councillors were unable to vote at March’s ordinary council meeting. Photo: File.

The vote to decide whether a new Optus mobile tower will be built at Lake Albert has been delayed after several Wagga Wagga councillors applied for a leave of absence or declared a conflict of interest.

Cr Jenny McKinnon and Cr Mick Henderson were forced to leave the chamber on Monday night (27 March) after the pair declared non-pecuniary, non-significant interest following a meeting with Lake Albert residents on the potential build site in February.

The pair’s declaration and the absence of Cr Tim Kochel and Cr Rod Kendall, away on a previously announced leave of absence, meant the required number of councillors needed to make a decision (five) was not met.

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“What happened last night was, we already had two pre-approved leave of absence with Cr Kochel and Cr Kendell,” Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout said.

“Then Cr McKinnon and Cr Henderson declared conflict on that one item.

“So therefore we couldn’t have a public discussion forum on that item and we couldn’t also discuss or do any action on that item during the meeting. When we get to those two things, the item is automatically deferred to the next available meeting.”

The result of the meeting means a decision will be postponed by two weeks, until 8 April.

Cr Tout said the nature in which the item was deferred was unlike anything he had experienced in his time as mayor.

“I can totally understand the frustration that people have with the decision being delayed,” he said.

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“I can only deal with the Code of Meeting Practice and what’s in front of me. There were two people on a leave of absence and two people that declared a conflict.

“It’s the first time it’s happened to me since I’ve been mayor; I don’t remember this ever happening prior either. It’s not a very common occurrence.”

Prior to Monday night’s (24 March) ordinary council meeting, there were 18 public submissions on the tower, all of which opposed it being built.

Cr Tout chose not to share his opinion on whether the construction of the tower should go ahead.

“It’s coming up on the eighth of April, I’ll let you know then,” he said.

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