TENTERFIELD’S closest NSW Legislative Council member Scot MacDonald has warned the shire it needs to be more open-minded and more aggressive to meet the challenges of the future, including a Tenterfield bypass.
Mr MacDonald said he had not had a single representation from Tenterfield since he was elected in March last year.
The Guyra-based Liberal Party representative was travelling through Tenterfield last week on his way to listen to the needs of groups on the coast.
“I’ve had more representations from Tweed than Tenterfield,” Mr MacDonald said.
“I see a lot of people coming down to see ministers etc, and maybe I just haven’t seen it, but I have seen no representations from Tenterfield.
“The mayor of Griffith [City Council] I would see half a dozen times a year.
“Tenterfield has to get on the front foot politically. They have to start batting down the doors a bit. It is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.
“I would just encourage Tenterfield’s chamber of commerce, the council and any other groups like that, to get active and get down to Maquarie Street [NSW’s parliament house].”
Tenterfield Shire Council mayor Toby Smith said he was “flabbergasted” by Mr MacDonald’s comments.
Cr Smith said to his knowledge, Mr MacDonald had only been in contact once with council, and he wasn’t even aware he was willing to represent the area.
“That’s his fault,” Cr Smith said.
“Generally, what we do is go through the members of the lower house. The upper house [legislative council] is a house of review, it is the lower house we approach.
“I have been goodness knows how many times to federal ministers, to state and national confer ences and to state ministers, and people like [National Party leader] Warren Truss.
“I have met with former prime minister Kevin Rudd at different times and certainly put Tenterfield up and been very successful in receiving lots of grants.”
Mr MacDonald was also critical of the recent debate which saw council vote for lower dust abatement contributions from “long-term” residents who had lived in the one house for 25 years or more.
“I think things like that are absurd,” he said.
“Tenterfield needs a new injection of people as well as the long-term residents. Fortress Tenterfield is a suicide note.
“Tenterfield has to get out of that fortress mentality.”
He warned the town needed to be prepared for the challenges it could face if the bypass went ahead and there was not a regular flow of travellers through Rouse Street.
Mr MacDonald said he believed council was on the right track in considering reducing its numbers, but it should also be encouraging businesses to diversify away from traditional agriculture.
As an example, he said Guyra Shire Council had worked to assist with roads and other areas to encourage a glasshouse tomato-growing operation which employed 300 people.
He said the move meant there was practically no unemployment in Guyra.
Mr MacDonald also described himself as the legislative council’s most “pro-coal seam gas member”, saying mining was one of the few industries that could deliver significant, reliable jobs in country areas.
Cr Smith said council could get into “awful trouble” applying one rule to one business and not to others.
He said council’s controversial industrial estate was an example of council’s “no win” situation, with some calling for subsidisation of land prices, and others saying the land should be sold for market prices.