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Getting personal

Thursday, 30th August, 2012

From top left, clockwise: Wincen Cuy, Darriea Turley, Peter Black, John Groenindijk From top left, clockwise: Wincen Cuy, Darriea Turley, Peter Black, John Groenindijk

Mayoral candidates go on the attack

By Erica Visser

A mayoral candidate forum that aimed to give people a chance to decide where to cast their vote was overshadowed by personal attacks.

The city's four mayoral candidates - Peter Black, Mayor Wincen Cuy, Clr Darriea Turley and Clr John Groenendijk - each took part in the community forum on Tuesday night at Club Legion.

It gave each candidate 20 minutes to state their case but quickly turned into a political circus.

Mr Black, who led the city from 1980 to 1999, was accused by a member of the audience of being a "Labor rat" over his choice to run as an independent against Clr Turley's ALP ticket.

"I've been endorsed by my party to stand, end of story, encouraged by my party to stand...I am not a Labor rat," Mr Black responded.

The audience member then asked Mr Black if he had approved the expenditure of $1 million on a failed minerals museum.

"There was planning for a mineral museum. I would suggest the Geo Centre is the museum you did get!" he replied.

The audience question time at the end of each speech was mainly used by councillors. Clr Tom Kennedy took the microphone following Clr Turley and Mayor Cuy's speeches to ask his own ticket leader, Mr Black, a question.

Clr Kennedy also asked Mayor Cuy how he could achieve anything if he was elected, given he was running without a team.

"You're a mayor running by yourself. How do you deliver on anything you promise?" he said.

"You're one person, you will be one vote... he can promise us nothing and deliver nothing."

But Mayor Cuy, in his preceding speech, said that he had been an unbiased leader at Council meetings over the past three years.

"I decided to run months ago as mayor and mayor only. The reason for that is there's always going to be good, strong people who want to run for Council and we need a strong, independent leader who will sit there and listen to debate, without favouritism," Mayor Cuy said.

"I've acknowledged that there's been strong healthy debate. We had about 28, 29 months of well-respected debate, then an election cycle
started and we fell into a little bit of discourse, a little bit of pointing the finger.

"We all have strong opinions, we all have strong views but we have to make a democratic decision and move on."

However, Mr Black held a different opinion on the matter of councillors "getting along".

"I get very bored of hearing time and time again that councillors have to work together," he said in his address.

"Local government is about people working for their community but it's about people having a difference of opinion."

Hot topics at the forum included the future of Council's Shorty O'Neil Village, the maintenance of roads, crime prevention and CCTV cameras, tourism and Council's debt and deficit.

Clr Turley was the only candidate to mention the National Broadband Network (NBN), a Federal Government initiative which would improve
internet speed and access in Far West NSW.

Another topic was the potential for aviation competition.

Mr Black said that the city needed a "decent air service" as the current Rex carrier was "too small" and expensive.

"We need a decent large-body jet service, something operated by one of the large companies, especially for the run from Broken Hill to Sydney," he said.

"I'd dearly like to see something done. Many of the ministers in the new, conservative (State) Government are in fact personal friends. I believe the State Government needs to relinquish the single licence from Sydney to Broken Hill to allow for competition."

But Mayor Cuy said that it was not realistic. "The last speaker said, 'Let's get a jet aircraft'. Who would not want a jet aircraft?" he said.

"But the legislation has changed from July 1 this year for over a certain weight and numbers you actually have to have screening to do that.

"It's not going to happen tomorrow, but let's hope it does happen.

"This Council got a service to Melbourne. I don't take credit for that, but this Council did it."

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