Dogfight over manning of airport committee

By DAWN COHEN

THE ELECTION of Ballina's mayor and deputy mayor was over in five minutes yesterday, but appointments to the council's airport committee erupted in a ruckus, forcing an adjournment because of disorderly behaviour.

At the Ballina Shire Council general meeting, mayor Cr Philip Silver was re-elected unopposed.

With no debate, Cr John Felsch retained his position as deputy mayor against Cr Alan Brown, who was supported by Crs Peter Moore and Keith Johnson.

However, tensions erupted when Cr Sharon Cadwallader lost her push for Cr Margaret Howes to join three male councillors on the airport committee.

"It's the old boy's club," Cr Howes called out, accusing the council of sexism for having female representation on only one of its six internal committees.

"People resort to those accusations only when they can't get by on merit," retorted Cr Johnson.

Cr Howes, who attends all airport committee meetings as an observer, noted she was the only one with a pilot's licence.

When mayor Cr Silver said extending the committee was an unnecessary complication, Cr Cadwallader suggested an existing member could make way for Cr Howes to provide a gender balance. Eventually the mayor was forced to adjourn the meeting because of disorderly conduct.

Crs Johnson, Brown and Peter Moore will continue sitting on the airport committee.



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