MAYOR MERV KING: Race not the issue.
MAYOR MERV KING: Race not the issue.

D-DAY FOR FOOTY ROW

By WILL JACKSON

will.jackson@northernstar.com.au

AN EXTRAORDINARY meeting tonight to decide whether an Aboriginal rugby league carnival should go ahead in Lismore is expected to be a fiery affair.

Residents with strong feelings will be allowed to speak on the matter before the council makes its decision.

Mayor Merv King's unilateral decision to knock back the 37th NSW Annual Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival, planned for the October Labour Day long weekend, has caused an outcry.

Cr King has even been accused of racism. But he said with several events already planned around that time there simply wasn't enough accommodation in Lismore for people attending the event.

And he said regional public transport was not up to bringing people to the games from other nearby towns.

Taking those points into consideration, he said it would be irresponsible to waive hire charges at Oakes Oval and Crozier Oval and manage the waste generated at council's venues, estimated at more than $40,000, as requested by the event's organisers. "Race was not one of the things considered in making the decision," he said.

The region's top cop Superintendent Bruce Lyons has backed Cr King's stance.

However, Cr Ros Irwin, who called for the extraordinary meeting to take place, said the organisers had developed a regional strategy that would have people staying as far away as Grafton and being brought to Lismore on chartered buses.

"They've (the organisers) thought all this through quite thoroughly," she said. "I believe this proposition has been treated differently to every other similar event. But I'll draw no conclusions as to why that might



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