Letters to the Editor: October 7

ELECTION: John McInerney said he was
ELECTION: John McInerney said he was "taken aback" by councillor Jaimie Abbott's comments about a mayoral candidate at the last council meeting.

A lapse in support

The Port Stephens Council meeting of September 28 prompted me to return to an article in the Newcastle Herald on July 26.

In that article, councillor Jaimie Abbott expressed her anger at public interest in her lack of attendance at council meetings. In the 2020/21 financial year, Cr Abbott had been absent for seven of the 21 scheduled meetings. In the article, Cr Abbott was reported as having said she was a big advocate for women in local government from all political parties and that she really thought more women should be encouraged.

So, I was taken aback by her attack on a woman [Leah Anderson] who has indicated an intention to nominate for mayor in the December council election. The woman, who operates her own very successful business, has recently been appointed chief executive officer of Port Stephens Koalas.

Part of the basis of the attack on the mayoral candidate was that if council was required to discuss koalas, the woman would have to declare an interest and absent herself from the meeting. Cr Abbott stated that she wanted the public to be aware of this.

Councillors and the mayor regularly declare an interest in matters being discussed and absent themselves - it is a standing item on the agenda. Indeed, at the meeting on September 28 the mayor, one other councillor, and a member of staff declared an interest and absented themselves when a matter was discussed. Situation normal.

Port Stephens Koalas is to be congratulated on appointing such a high calibre CEO. This woman, if successful, would make an excellent mayor. Her business experience, judgment, and common sense would be an asset to Port Stephens. Cr Abbott is correct in being a big advocate for women in local government and believing more women should be encouraged. It's just a shame she lapsed at this council meeting.

John McInerney, Shoal Bay

Protect our natural assets

In response to Dennis Corr (Letters, September 30) you may not be aware of what is happening under the water in Shoal Bay. We have a population of sea dragons and other marine life that depend on the seagrass beds for survival but the natural state of Port Stephens is expendable, I suppose, if you want to turn a buck. Building a ferry wharf at Tomaree is sheer environmental vandalism. I'm no greenie, as I love fishing and spending time on and under the water. I would love to be able to fish and spearfish in exclusion zones within the Port Stephens marine park but I accept the fact my old haunts are off limits. Without our seagrass, mangrove areas and tributaries in top order we will have no fishing or no diving industry. If all we care about is the dollar and development then we are truly silly.

Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay

Why move here to change it?

Even though the comments of Steve Barnett (Letters, September 23) were a bit over the top, I mostly agree with them. Some years ago I lived in a small town in the Snowy Mountains. A new family from Sydney came to live there. The woman was speaking to a friend of mine, telling him all the things that she thought were needed in the area. When she had finished, he looked at her and said: 'We never needed any of these until you arrived'. Why do people move then want to change things?

Anne Bright, Lemon Tree Passage

Keep control of your dogs

Whilst we all love our dogs and it is nice to see them enjoying themselves, I am over dogs off-leash running up to my dog which is on a lead, frightening the hell out of me. The owners are not controlling their dogs nor do some seem to care. At Boat Harbour I saw a man and his little girl nearly knocked over by a large dog whilst the owner was paddling away on his kayak. Please control your dogs. Keep them beside you. Not all of us want to play or be barked at.

Trish Ryan, One Mile

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