Gianpiero Battista has quit Lismore City Council.
Gianpiero Battista has quit Lismore City Council.

'I wanted to make a statement': Real reason why he quit

FORMER Lismore councillor Gianpiero Battista described his resignation last week as a vote of "no confidence in the leadership of council, the general manager and the mayor as well".

Mr Battista also described operating in an information vacuum where it was difficult to go forwards and improve the city's life.

Mr Battista and Greg Bennett both resigned from council last week, with Mr Bennett's resignation effective today and Mr Battista's resignation effective from August 6.

"The main reason why I left is because unfortunately, in the last 18 months, council has become a place where you cannot improve the city's life," he said.

"I was constantly fighting to get the right information, and that kept going backwards rather than going forward.

"I wanted to make a statement, call it a vote of no confidence, in the leadership of council, the general manager and the mayor as well.

Mr Battista said Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith and the council's general manager Shelley Oldham seemed to "following the same line at the moment".

Mr Battista said Council in one example initially refused releasing legal advice and then eventually permitted councillors to view the complex legal advice in oppressive, timed circumstances without ability to take any notes or copies.

He said as a result Cr Eddie Lloyd was forced to bring a motion to the chamber to have the legal advice provided to councillors without such restrictions.

"There are many other examples. There were some time we sent councillor's requests for information, and the response was 'oh, that's an operational matter, we won't give you the information'," he added.

 

FORMER COUNCIL: From top left, councillors Bill Moorhouse, Neil Marks, Gianpiero Battista, Greg Bennett, Adam Guise and Darlene Cook. Seating, Elly Bird, Eddie Lloyd, Mayor Isaac Smith, Vanessa Ekins and Nancy Casson.
FORMER COUNCIL: From top left, councillors Bill Moorhouse, Neil Marks, Gianpiero Battista, Greg Bennett, Adam Guise and Darlene Cook. Seating, Elly Bird, Eddie Lloyd, Mayor Isaac Smith, Vanessa Ekins and Nancy Casson.

 

Mr Battista said Lismore City Council has not allowed councillors enough time to decide on issues that impacted Lismore residents.

"Recently, we were briefed an hour before an extraordinary meeting, and then we had to take a vote straight after," he said.

"That's not good governance.

"The (Local Government) Act says the general manager has to provide councillors any information that allows us to conduct our role in the proper way, because we need to be informed to make good decisions," he said.

"I could have stayed there for another 12 months, collecting the $619 a month, but that didn't feel right to me.

"A lot of people have said 'if you leave, management wins, because you are not there to make a point', but I could not stand that I was getting paid when I could not be effective at all in my role as a councillor."

Mr Battista said stress and personal issues did not influence his decision.

"I didn't resign because I was stressed and I didn't resign because of my family," he said.

"My family has endured a lot of issues and council is certainly at the very low end of stressful items for me."

 

Gianpero and Rebekka Battista with sons Isaac and Nathan at their home in Lismore.
Gianpero and Rebekka Battista with sons Isaac and Nathan at their home in Lismore.

 

Lismore City Council's general manager, Shelly Oldham, thanked Mr Battista for his 12-year service at council.

"It is the nature of democracy that one councillor cannot always convince their fellow councillors to adopt his/her position and policies," she said.

"This term of council has been stressful and difficult for all councillors as they have had to deal with two floods, resolving a $6 million operating deficit, a bushfire and now COVID-19."

The general manager said that legal advice is always confidential.

"All Councillors are provided with the same legal advice and in the same manner," she said.

"Staff work hard to provide all councillors with information.

"This includes answering almost 1000 'councillor requests' this year alone, up from an average of 600 in previous years.

"There has also been a significant increase in the number of workshops and briefings that staff have organised to keep councillors fully informed about decisions they need to make and answer any questions."



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