"Just tell the truth," Mayor tells agitators
21 May 2007
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council says it is disappointed that the organisers of a rally held this morning are persisting in a concerted campaign of misinformation and inaccuracies against the community's new Glasshouse centre.
Construction of the central arts, conference and entertainment venue is proceeding well, on track for completion next year.
Mayor Rob Drew said the ongoing opposition to the project despite the fact construction was proceeding cast a pall over what should be an exciting time for Port Macquarie and the Hastings as it looked forward to the Glasshouse opening.
"Calls to set up a campaign of weeks of picketing of the site do our community no good at all," Cr Drew said.
"People who attended the entire rally tell me the speakers dwelt on slanderous accusations against councillors and senior staff, called the councillors 'mongrels', and threatened to do anything possible to bring the centre undone.
"They repeatedly hinted at so-called 'secret deals' but were notably short on detailing their claims and careful not to actually name anybody - and that tells us they have no basis at all for their rhetoric. They are just trying to foment discontent by misleading people with scattergun wild statements.
"It was a really negative experience to hear one speaker incorrectly claim we had covertly removed heritage items from the site.
"The fact is: the provision we've made for preserving convict-era remains will be one of the best outcomes anywhere in NSW. When people get to see what we have put in place they'll realise we have lifted the bar on heritage interpretation."
The Mayor said a figure reportedly given to people attending the meeting by Cr Jamie Harrison, that operating costs would be $120,000 a week, was just ridiculous.
"Cr Harrison has been told again and again that the net cost of operation will be around $10,000 a week - in line with any other council-provided service. It's hard to know how Cr Harrison can possibly justify making such a fanciful and damaging claim or for what purpose."
The Mayor said the occasion had prompted a positive display by supporters of the facilities the centre would provide for the community. He said about 100 people had turned up in support of the Glasshouse project. "But they observed a police request to disperse into small groups as they had not sought to register for a protest permit.
"They and the quiet majority give us reassurance."