The Scottish statue proposed for McLachlan Park, Maclean.
The Scottish statue proposed for McLachlan Park, Maclean.

ENTER THE DEADSPACE: Councillor derides slow process

EVOKING images of a barren land, devoid of decision-makers, a Clarence Valley councillor has described his own council as "deadspace".

Cr Andrew Baker's comments came after his motion - to erect a donated statue in McLachlan Park, Maclean - was amended to enable more time for consultation.

The issue last came to council in November where the matter was deferred after councillors heard passionate deputations from the proponents, Maclean Cultural Art Scottish Statue Promotion Committee and the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

The intention was to allow both parties to discuss the proposed statue - donated by MCASSPC - after YTOAC expressed concern over its placement in area with significant history for Yaegl people.

Mr Baker said the issue had been ongoing for three years and after a certain point in time further delay was "an abrogation of councils responsibility to make a decision".

"We just sit on our hands and it falls into the deadspace known as Clarence Valley Council," he said. "This amendment … will just prolong the process abysmally."

However, general manager Ashley Lindsay cautioned that approval had the potential to "jeopardise our relationship with the Yaegl traditional owners".

He also said MCASSPC had not yet met with YTAOC.

"COVID-19 restrictions has made it particularly difficult for us to meet," he said.

But Mr Baker said the last council resolution dealing with the issue had not imposed a requirement on "either party to talk to the other".

"To say there has been some difficulty in getting people together because of COVID-19 ignores the fact COVID-19 came in about three months after that resolution," he said.

"I believe it is time we got on with doing what we are elected to do and make some decisions one way or another."

Mr Baker said by the time the issue came back in two months there would be "two months of genuine council decision making and leadership and three years of dead space by dead hands of council."

A majority of councillors disagreed and Cr Karen Toms said while she "understood the frustration", council was trying to be inclusive.

"I take offence at Cr Bakers description of the Clarence Valley Council as being a deadspace, I think that is insulting," she said.

Cr Greg Clancy agreed with Cr Toms and said the area was of high significance to the Yaegl people.

"We do need to be fully inclusive, it does appear to me that the traditional owners may not want the statue there at all," Cr Greg Clancy said.

"We can't just go ahead and approve this statue without proper consultation."

Councillors resolved to accept the donated sign and install it "in a location agreed to by MCASSPC and YTOAC following consultation and a meeting with both parties where agreement has been met before the July 2020 Council meeting".