A USUALLY subdued council meeting became a war of words as councillors angrily opposed a motion put forward by councillor Matt Whitfield regarding residents’ access to the NBN.
Cr Whitfield was voted down in his proposal, that council advocate on behalf of residents for better NBN access for their homes and businesses, by other councillors who felt it was not local government’s place to do so.
He proposed that councillors support Baldivis residents in their push for access to extra internet ports.
He asked council to write a letter to the Federal Telecommunications Minister, the Telstra General Manager and the NBN General Manager outlining concerns about the lack or perceived lack of internet ports within Baldivis and to request an urgent solution.
First to vehemently oppose the submission was Cr Kelly McManus.
“You probably know what is coming Cr Whitfield – it is not a case of simply writing a letter,” she said.
“This is an issue for state and federal governments. It is not a local government’s role.”
Councillors Deb Hamblin and Joy Stewart both said they felt there was nothing local government could do.
Mayor Barry Sammels agreed with the councillors. “I agree this is a State and Federal Government issue,” he said.
“Cr Whitfield you advertise these causes on social media as you are entitled to do so.
“It has been brought up before and there are councillors here who feel they are being intimidated by what you do through social media.
“You are entitled to use social media but this advocacy just takes up more officers’ time and increases costs.”
Cr Whitfield said he thought council’s role was to advocate on behalf of ratepayers.
“I thought this was what we do, advocate for the residents,” he said.
Responding to Cr McManus’ assertion that council should not interfere with state and federal politics, Cr Whitfield pointed out that they had done so before.
“So in areas of health, education and public transport we will not advocate for residents, but we have done before,” he said.