Paul Rankin apologises for meeting threat

Liberal Party member Harry Gooden says he will not accept the apology from Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin after he was threatened by his former running mate at a public meeting on the weekend.

On Tuesday night the Shellharbour City Council chambers overflowed as residents opposed to the City Hub turned up to hear the project debated in two separate notice of motions.

Despite previously saying he would not apologise to Mr Gooden, Cr Rankin at the start of Tuesday night’s council meeting read a statement in which he apologised to Mr Gooden for comments made on the weekend where he described Mr Gooden as ‘‘an idiot’’ and said ‘‘I’m coming after you’’.

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In the statement, Cr Rankin said the vast majority of people at Sunday’s meeting were not interested in the views of those in support of the City Hub project and through their heckling and interjections showed little respect to those that did.

‘‘Unfortunately during my address I reacted in an unfortunate, emotional and inappropriate manner and in a way that caused offence to those present,’’ Cr Rankin said.

‘‘I very much regret the nasty comments that I made in the heat of the moment to the meeting, in particular to Mr Harry Gooden.

‘‘I would apologise to Mr Gooden for those remarks and withdraw them unreservedly.’’

Cr Rankin blamed his comments on ‘‘inexperience’’.

Mr Gooden refused to accept the apology, saying he would only accept action against Cr Rankin, adding he felt uncomfortable to be sitting so close to Cr Rankin in the chambers on Tuesday.

When the meeting started, Cr Kellie Marsh’s motion to stop all work on the hub and conduct a poll of residents was defeated 5-2.

Cr Marsh said she would drop all opposition to the hub if it came back that the City Hub was what the majority of the community wanted, while Cr Peter Moran said despite the community being asked what they want in the hub, they had never been asked if they wanted the hub at all.

Councillors were told the cost of the poll would be about $250,000 and there was no confidence that the poll would be a true reflection of the community’s views.

Cr Murray’s notice of motion at 10pm put ‘‘the facts’’ on the table to debate, and questions were raised as to whether four pages of facts qualified as notice of motion.

The next step in the City Hub process is the development application to be lodged by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

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