Independent Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has urged the NSW Minister for Local Government to commission an independent inquiry into Shoalhaven City Council’s waste management contract following conformation the Council’s contractor, Bioelektra Australia, was a mere shelf company, had no relationship with the Bioelektra Group in Poland who owned the rights to its unique waste management technology and has now gone into liquidation.
“An independent inquiry is not an optional extra here. Ratepayers have a right to know why they are worse off financially and environmentally and they have a right to know why adequate due diligence wasn’t done on what is likely the largest contract council will enter,” Mr Ward said.
“Not only have we seen hundreds of trees cleared from a site where this project was meant to be built, the opportunity cost is enormous given that ratepayers have been footing the bill in waste levies for the dumping of putrescible waste into landfill that could have been diverted and delivered much better environmental outcomes.
“As a result of my questions in Parliament, the Local Government Minister will now be briefed and is considering an independent inquiry,” Mr Ward said.
“How ratepayers were exposed to such risks without even the most basic inquires requires is beyond comprehension,” he said.
“I commend Councillors Copley and Ell who have been raising their concerns about the city’s waste management, Bioelektra and the lack of due diligence by Shoalhaven City Council,” Mr Ward said.
The Deputy Mayor of Shoalhaven Clr Paul Ell said: “This has been a monumental failure of epic proportions for our City.”
“Residents will be rightly asking questions about how we possibly got to this point. A comprehensive independent inquiry about this whole sorry saga is absolutely warranted,” Clr Ell said.
“The lack of transparency and communication with our community on this issue has been incredibly disappointing. It simply isn't good enough that Councillors and residents have had to learn about what has been happening about a multi-million-dollar contract through the media,” Clr Ell said.
“Amanda Findley was only too happy to parade in front of cameras at the sod turning for this project just last year. She's also been keen to promote her leadership for securing Council's commitment to the project. Well now that things have gone pear shaped, Mayor Amanda Findley is missing in action,” Deputy Mayor Clr Paul Ell said.
Shoalhaven City Councillor Serena Copley said: “Due to the spectacular failure of this project and the unwillingness of The Mayor and some Councillors to consider other waste strategies that would have mitigated this risk, we must now prioritise a solution that can be implemented quickly,” she said.
“All options must be considered to address the now critical lack of landfill availability to accommodate the City's waste requirements,” Clr Copley said.
“To say that after almost a decade of what can only be described as an obsession with Bioelektra we are back to square one is an understatement,” Clr Copley concluded.