Coober Pedy News
       No. 63                                               20 August  2004

Archived copy       

Editorial          Letters to Editor          


  August General Meeting Council Briefs 

Public consultation and awareness campaign coming soon.

The District Council of Coober Pedy discussed the new Dog Management Laws that it is required to conform to, as a Local Government body under the umbrella of the Minister of Local Government. 

In particular, dogs in public places are to be on a leash. 

It was decided to embark on a public consultation and awareness program, because the changes were thought to be a bit too much for the whole community to absorb suddenly all in one hit. It was pointed out that Coober Pedy, unique as always, ( in contrast to Ceduna, Port Augusta, Berri and Barmera, other local government areas associated with indigenous Community Councils), was still allowing dogs to 'roam at large' in the main street, and they are too cunning to be caught, and they have been allowed to do this since 'for ever'. 

Councillors agreed that it would be a good idea to contact the Dunjibar Community Council at Oodnadatta to find out what they were doing, because apparently Dunjibar Community, in contrast, were doing a good job managing their own dog problems.

Councillor's appeal denied

Writing as a ratepayer, Cr Rose Temple appealed against her liability to pay a water bill of over $1000 that resulted from an unmanageable leak that occurred after the collapse of a pile of sandstone following heavy rain. Her letter said that the great flow of water made it impossible for her to access her water meter and turn off the supply, therefore, in her opinion, the Council should pay.

On the day of the problem, Water Supply Manager Les Hoad, in response to a call for help, came to the property. He saw that he couldn't get to the meter so instead he went to the source of the leak, a broken white polythene water pipe,  and rammed a socket extension bar down inside it and stopped the flow. 

He subsequently wrote a letter to the council explaining that it was his opinion that the inaccessibility of the water meter was not the fault of the council because the white polythene pipe that had been broken by the fall of dirt had been laid on the surface, and it should have been laid under the ground from the meter onward. Had it been laid underground from the meter onward, according to accepted plumbing practice, it would not have been broken by the fall of dirt. Also, white polythene pipe exposed to the severe local summer sunlight is prone to deteriorate quickly compared to black polythene pipe.

He said in his letter that any water that passes through a meter should be paid by the consumer, and that anything that happens on the consumer side of a meter is the responsibility of the consumer. However, he would accept any over ruling decided by council.

Councillors agreed with the Water Supply Manager's assessment and passed a motion to that effect.

Main Street Traders have their way.

Many years ago Coober Pedy tourism operator Mr Tom Campagna managed to cause to have excised from Crown land, at that time administered by the SA Department of Mines, a piece of Precious Stones Prospecting Field land, from the field just west of the North entrance to the town, and adjoining the Stuart Highway. It became known as 'Tom's Working Mine'. This matter was approved at the time by the then Coober Pedy Council.

More recently this location was purchased by Mr Noel Tippet. He has been able to access town amenities as provided by the Council, including 240volt AC electricity supplied by the Council through it's Electricity Supply, now taken over by Statewest Power. Cables go underneath the Stuart Highway to the tourist mine, still with the name 'Tom's Working Mine'.

In his most recent contact with the Council Mr Tippet requested approval to build a shop and office on the site. 

Council's consultant Building Inspector Grant Riches in his preamble to his recommendation of the options Council might pursue in response to Mr Tippet's application, stated that he did not think that objection to approval on the grounds of it causing added competition to main street opal sellers would be valid.

In the discussion prior to voting on the matter, most councillors, and the Mayor, indicated that they were opposed to approval, because giving it would possibly create a precedent to a rush of similar requests to commercially develop opal retail and other retail outlets, close to town in Mining Land abutting the Stuart Highway. This, they said, would in turn make increased competition for the main street traders, who would miss out on trade because people would not be turning off the highway and into the town.

Mr Riches provided in his advice to Council the wording for a recommendation for either a "Yes", or a "No", answer to Mr Tippet's application for approval. Council, in deciding to use Mr Riches' "No" recommendation wording for a Motion denying development approval, in effect decided not to exercise a possible option to phrase their own wording for a motion to deny approval.

Councillor Rapaic, the only current councillor who was a councillor back when Council originally approved the Campagna development, and who opposed that development at that time, voted against a denying of approval this time.

Judgement made in long standing stouch

Mr Trevor McLeod, CEO of the DCCP, provided to councillors page upon page of copies of documents and council minutes, and maps, to back up his opinion that Council was correct in insisting that all unpaid fines and associated unpaid sewage rates accrued by a local property owner be settled.

The matter has been going on for years.

In last month's general meeting the property owner took advantage of the opportunity to address Council in defence of his stand not to pay. As a result, with no resolution of the matter being able to be made, the Mayor finally stepped in and closed the matter by saying that by the next month's meeting, Council would research past documents and make a  judgement in the matter which be final and binding.

Councillors came to the conclusion, after a fairly vigorous discussion, that Mr McLeod's opinion should be supported, and directed him to include the same copies of back up documents in his reply to the property owner when he would be writing to tell him he had to pay up.

Cr. Doulgaris said that the appropriate way for a property owner at odds with the council to deal with such a solution would be to pay up and then object, before fines started accruing.

Nuts and bolts to remain incognito

In a Question without Notice Cr Athanasiadis forcefully argued that the fine details of all the doings of the council should be made available to councillors in each month's agenda.

He said he likened the position of Councillor to that of a board member responsible to the shareholders of a public company. How could he represent the shareholders properly if he didn't have all the fine details on hand to refer to, if and when a constituent required such information from an Elected Member?

Cr Athanasiadis' zeal was tempered by the wisdom of the Mayor, who in turn has been tempered by the wisdom of the collective experience of service as a Councillor come Deputy Mayor come Mayor.


 

During the meeting, Authorised  Dog Control Officer Tom Curnow was asked to come to the table to give some background to the problems that he would face in his administration of the new Dog Control Laws. Someone said that it would be a good idea for him to come forward at that time, instead of later on in the evening. Someone else said  that they agreed, because Tom might be wanting to go home to watch something on TV.

His barely audible response as he was about to sit down in the 'hot seat', as it used to be called in the time of the previous Mayor, was,

"Nothing on TV could beat this comedy hour!"