Byron Mayor Jan Barham.
Byron Mayor Jan Barham.

Mayor doesn't recommend dual roles

BEING a mayor and an MP is a lot of work and the State Government has released a discussion paper on whether individuals should be banned from doing both jobs in case it is too much.

The Minister for Local Government Don Page released the paper.

This week Byron Mayor Jan Barham will again ask councillors to shift meeting dates to accommodate her 2012 State Parliament schedule.

Cr Barham yesterday said she would defend the right of individuals to take on the dual roles, but would not recommend it.

"I don't think it's a recommended position because of the level of work involved," Cr Barham said.

"But again, you don't question an individual's level of commitment to their partner or family or children.

"Whether or not they have time to do these things is very much a personal decision."

Cr Barham will not stand for local government at the next election, but will continue until the end of the current term.

"As the popularly-elected mayor I feel the obligation to fulfil my obligations," she said.

Councillor Ross Tucker said the workload of mayor and State parliamentarian, combined with travel to Sydney each week seemed an impossible task.

"It would seem to me that Jan just cannot do both," he said.

Cr Barham has missed several meetings since becoming a State upper house MP in March, mostly due to clashes with parliamentary sittings.

In September, councillors including conservative Cr Tucker denied a request by Cr Barham to change council meeting dates to accommodate her schedule.

Greens councillor Simon Richardson said councillors were denying Cr Barham the right to represent her electorate.

Consequently, Cr Richardson said the Mayor's absence was pushing the council vote from progressive to conservative.

In the Mayor's absence there are three Greens councillors, three conservatives and two independents.

Eight councillors means votes are often tied, giving the Deputy Mayor, independent Basil Cameron, the casting vote. Some say his vote is increasingly conservative.

Cr Richardson said the situation was "playing havoc" with voting patterns, including a recent vote on the West Byron development.

Other councillors disagreed, saying the belief that voters elected a "green council" was wrong.

Cr Tucker said only four of the nine councillors were Greens.

He believed council meetings had run more efficiently in Cr Barham's absence.

"The way Jan conducts meetings and formulates motions on the run has a confusing effect," he said.

 



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