Former Central Coast Mayor Lisa Matthews said the region could “say goodbye to democracy” with the announcement on October 30 that all councillors are suspended immediately and an administrator is to be appointed to take the reins of Central Coast Council.
“It was a fait accompli,” Matthews said.
“I am deeply disappointed after we put so much effort into a submission which we felt was solid. “We had people quoted in that submission saying councillors were blind-sided but the writing was on the wall.”
Matthews said she had been made to feel “like a criminal”. “But we have done nothing wrong,” she said.
“It’s a bad feeling and it’s not fair.
“It’s not like we took or misspent any money.
“We approved, ratified or objected to proposals put by staff.
“Councillors don’t have as much power as people think.”
Matthews said her biggest fear was that councillors would be made the scapegoats, and the public will never find out what really went wrong.
“I don’t think the community will get the answers they’re hoping for,” she said.
Matthews said she thought the administrator would stay long-term and the Council was unlikely to go to an election next September.
“So Council meetings are now a one-man show and I’m not sure if there will still be public forums,” she said.
“My fear for the community is that the public will be shut out of anything going forward and the truth won’t be told.”
Matthews said councillors’ access to council buildings had been revoked and their emails deleted immediately.
“It was very blunt and severe,” she said.
Personally, Matthews said she would take a breath after weeks of 5-6 hour meetings every second day for three weeks.
“I have been in local government for 21 years,” she said.
“I have a business so am not destitute and I have things to get done to put my own house in order – things I haven’t been able to do for weeks.
Matthews said she was informed of the suspension during a phone call just after 2.30pm on October 30 with a representative from the Office of Local Government.
“I was told the suspension would be gazetted today(Friday),” she said.