5 big decisions at Lismore's council meeting
EXPANDING Lismore Shopping Square wasn't the only big ticket item on the council's agenda at Tuesday's mammoth meeting.
There were 17 people who stood up to have their say on various issues from changing Australia Day, the council's opening prayer to the Lismore Lake.
Councillors uphold decision to ditch prayer
DONNING 'we pray' t-shirts, councillors Nancy Casson and Gianpiero Battista were at the forefront of a campaign to reinstate the prayer through a rescission motion last night.
Both councillors argued the majority of the population of Lismore's LGA were Christian and that the prayer signified a blessing on council to best serve our community.
For and against points were put forward during public access. A former believer, Jacob Stone, argued keeping the prayer "excludes people" while Mark Pratten said "religion is not God" and urged that "we aren't quite ready to let go of God's hands just yet".
In a close 6-5 vote, the rescission motion was turned down with a narrow majority of councillors saying it was best to keep local politics secular.
Hard line to change Australia Day softened
SINCE the Department of Immigration threatened to take away Lismore's right to hold citizenship ceremonies, the tone of Cr Vanessa Ekins' motion to change the date has softened.
Amended four times, the new motion passed by council on Tuesday has changed its focus by calling for the government to include a lesson on indigenous history as a citizenship test requirement.
Cr Ekins' motion involved community consultations about what January 26 means to indigenous peoples with a report to come back to council.
"We are not going hard, we are not going to the Federal Government changing the date, we are talking to our community about what it means," she said.
Bundjalung elder Uncle Michael Ryan told the chamber there was "literally no other way" for the nation to aspire toward coming together as a nation than to change the date.
Adele Wessell, who has a doctorate relating to Australia Day research, urged the council to be "on the right side of history" and work towards changing the date.
Head of the council's Aboriginal Advisory Group Annie McWilliams told the chamber changing the date hadn't been raised by the group in the years she has coordinated the meetings, when asked the question by Cr Battista.
Caring for Lismore Lake
COUNCIL unanimously voted to enhance the Lismore Lake precinct in what was one of the shortest debates of the evening.
Cr Bill Moorhouse's original motion to maintain Lismore Lake was bolstered with the help of an amendment by Cr Darlene Cook.
A push for the motion was amplified by Big Rob, of Lismore, and South Lismore Duck Pond secretary Mark Bailey.
Mr Rob touched on the importance of the lake for wildlife while Mr Bailey discussed strategies for maintenance.
Adding to Cr Moorhouse's motion to investigate methods to retain the lake's high water levels from the flood, Cr Cook's amendment sought to explore entering a memorandum of understanding with a local Landcare group to maintain the precinct.
She also asked council to retain the amenities block for storage purposes.
Decision "not as good as what we wanted": Speedway
AFTER waiting six hours through a marathon council meeting, supporters of the Lismore Speedway finally received an answer about extending their hours.
And it wasn't the answer they had hoped for.
The Speedway's David Lander and Graham Meineke implored council to extend event hours by half an hour to 10.30pm during race season to assist racers from Queensland and provide time for additional races.
Mr Lander said the council's compromise to offer a flexibility to extend hours in unexpected circumstances was " not as good as what we wanted".
"We got a decision out of it, they took me back half an hour but if we have a problem we can go longer," Mr Lander said.
Mr Lander said in the decade he has worked at the speedway, the operators have never exceeded the set EPA and council noise standards.
The changes will be implemented from October for the 2017/18 speedway season.
Hospital parking fees revised
DEBATE about hospital parking expanded to the Rowing Club as Cr Bennett put forward an amendment for the club's carpark to come into line with rates at the Lismore Base Hospital precinct.
A tied 5-5 vote was decided with the mayoral vote from Cr Isaac Smith, who voted down the amendment.
In the end, council adopted to roll out $2 a day parking on Hunter St between Laurel Ave and Orion St.