Council ‘must lead way’ on grog spending

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

Councillors last week found themselves in a similar position as Port Hedland residents, when they were faced with a decision on whether to restrict their own alcohol consumption.

Councillor Lincoln Tavo put forward a motion at the council’s last meeting to no longer allow the consumption of alcohol by elected members at any council-related meeting.

Elected members and the executive team are invited to stay for a meal after meetings where alcohol is often consumed, and the council has so far spent $2381 on booze this financial year.

Councillor Tavo said the council should set an example as town leaders.

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“This is just about doing things right and if you think it’s right that ratepayers’ money gets spent on alcohol for people to sit around a table, so be it,” he said.

“I don’t think it is. We preach quite regularly here that we’re leaders of the community and this is our opportunity to lead the way and set the standard.”

Mayor Camilo Blanco supported the motion.

“That example should show we don’t drink on local government property then drive home, risking the reputation of town and council if ever pulled over and have to do an RBT and potentially blowing over,” he said.

“We’ve also been requesting and demanding staff find efficiencies in the budget.

“We too should be finding those efficiencies by not adding unnecessary operational costs ... alcohol purchases have dropped off significantly from previous years, but still too high.”

However, Councillor Julie Arif found the argument “rather small-minded”, believing the majority of ratepayers money was going towards formal staff sundowner events rather than councillors’ “one bottle of wine” after an ordinary council meeting.

“If we look at the officer’s report, it says alcohol would still be purchased, as required, for exclusive events on an individual basis,” she said.

“Exclusive events include ... formal staff sundowners and events, what I’m thinking is staff are the ones consuming this amount of alcohol, not members of council here.”

The motion lost three votes to five.

Mr Blanco said he was extremely disappointed.

“The town has clearly had serious alcohol issues that’s created all sorts of problems for our town,” he said.

“It’s outrageous that councillors wouldn’t support this motion.”

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