Shellharbour City Hub: councillors squabble over community meeting

Artists impression of the Shellharbour City Hub.
Artists impression of the Shellharbour City Hub.

Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin has questioned the involvement of his former party in Saturday’s  community meeting about the proposed Shellharbour City Hub project, describing the meeting as ‘‘a promotional vehicle’’ for potential Liberal state candidates.

Cr Rankin’s former Liberal colleague Kellie Marsh has organised the community meeting for Albion Park’s Centenary Hall at 2.30pm to hear what the Albion Park community thinks of the city hub project.

Cr Rankin said his inquiries with council staff revealed the NSW Liberal Party was providing the public liability insurance for the meeting.

‘‘My question is why are the Liberal Party supporting this?’’ Cr Rankin asked.

‘‘Are they using the opposition to the hub as a tool to promote Kellie Marsh or Mark Jones who may be the Liberal candidates for Shellharbour? 

‘‘Why is the NSW Liberal Party getting involved in local government issues?’’

Labor’s Shellharbour MP Anna Watson has previously described opposition to the hub as ‘‘a blatant partisan political campaign’’.

Cr Marsh said she was paying for the hall hire out of her own pocket and as a Liberal councillor had asked the NSW Liberal Party to provide the public liability cover that she needed.

‘‘I could’ve asked other community groups but didn’t think it was right to get them involved,’’ Cr Marsh said.

‘‘It is my role to support the Liberal voters, but people know that I provide advocacy for all people in the community ... the hub affects everyone and everyone is welcome to have their say.

‘‘The reason I am doing this in the first place is some of my fellow councillors refuse to have a public meeting so I am taking matters into may own hands.’’

Cr Rankin said the Liberal Party also provided the public liability insurance for a similar community meeting at Oak Flats earlier in the year, where Cr Rankin publicly clashed and threatened his 82-year-old former Liberal Party running mate Harry Gooden, for which he later apologised.

Cr Rankin said he supported the City Hub project, despite initial concerns.

‘‘After going through everything I think we need it,’’ Cr Rankin said.


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