Regional library thrown a lifeline

THE Richmond-Tweed Regional Library has been thrown alifeline with Lennox Head-based Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack preparing a private member's bill which would effectively prevent the network's takeover by the Lismore City Council.

Ms Cusack said last night she was still seeking her party's backing of the bill, which she expected to receive, and was also holding discussions with the Minister for Arts, Virginia Judge, on proposing a government bill.

“I would much prefer the Government to repair the legislation itself. This needs a bipartisan approach to fix the library,” she told The Northern Star.

“If the Government is willing to do this it will resolve the issue overnight, but if they don't I will put up a private member's bill.”

The Lismore council controversially took control of the network at this month's library committee meeting, arguing the structure of the network – which services the Ballina, Bryon, Lismore and Tweed council areas – was in conflict with the Library Act.

Library committee chairman and Lismore deputy mayor Isaac Smith said Lismore had the backing of the other councils to become the executive administrative council.

However, a number of Byron and Tweed councillors have since expressed alarm about the speed of the change and its possible ramifications.

The regional library's highly regarded director, Martin Field, will also take a redundancy in protest.

Ms Cusack said the network could be brought into line with the law through a small number of changes to the Library Act.

She said those changes hadn't been made in the past ‘because no one expected someone like (Lismore City Council general manager) Paul Sullivan to do what he has done'.

“I don't want to make this a political issue, but I have managed to get complex legislation passed within the same day, so it can be done. This issue is not new, everyone understands what the problem is,” she said.

“It can be a win-win for everyone and no one has too loose face.”

Ms Judge yesterday said the State Library of NSW has commenced its five-yearly review of the library regulations.

Cr Smith last week said Lismore council did not have time to wait for the review.

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