Cessnock local election may be delayed

LOCAL Government Minister Don Page may soon be called on to defer the September local government election in Cessnock.

At a council meeting tomorrow night, Cr Ian Olsen will call for Mr Page to appoint an administrator and defer the election for at least one month after the findings of an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into some councillors have been released.

He said this would allow time for every candidate to go to the polls with ‘‘no slurs’’ hanging over their heads.

‘‘If the election is deferred until the findings are made public, all candidates will be on a level playing field and voters will have no concerns over the selection of candidates they are electing,’’ he said.

In another notice of motion tomorrow night, Cr Neil Gorman will call for all legal proceedings initiated by council staff to require the consent of councillors at a full council meeting.

Cr Gorman said legal costs over the term of the incumbent council have tripled.

‘‘The difference between what we spent per year on legals in our last council term and what we expect to spend this year would almost exactly make up the money we are proposing to borrow to balance our budget this coming year,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe councillors should maintain a closer rein on expenditure.’’

Cr Gorman said the other reason he put up the motion was deciding what should be defended or prosecuted.

‘‘There have been numerous instances over the years where staff and councillors disagreed over the merits of a situation,’’ he said. ‘‘Quite simply, by definition, the councillors are always right.

‘‘If a majority of councillors have a point of view and express it, the officers must follow it and one example of that last year would have saved the ratepayers over $50,000.’’

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