Council Inquiry – Last Wyong Mayor asks to cross examine first Coast Mayor

Former Wyong Mayor, Mr Doug EatonFormer Wyong Mayor, Mr Doug Eaton

The last Mayor of Wyong, Doug Eaton, was lined up to cross examine the first Mayor of Central Coast, Jane Smith, when the first day of hearings of the Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council unfolded on Monday, September 27.

Eaton was there to represent his client, suspended Councillor Greg Best.

Eaton requested leave on behalf of his client to cross-examine Smith, about the recruitment and performance of Gary Murphy who became Chief Executive Officer of Council in June 2018.

Eaton said that as Smith was the Mayor at the time, he thought she was uniquely qualified to give evidence.

Smith was the Coast’s first mayor but had become Deputy Mayor by the time the Councillors were suspended in October 2020.

The Commissioner, Roslyn McCulloch, said since this was an administrative inquiry, there were no parties contesting a matter but she would defer Eaton’s application until she had heard Smith’s evidence.

“I’m not presently minded to allow cross-examination. You would have to persuade me that it would be of benefit to the inquiry to have Ms Smith cross-examined,” she said in the afternoon of the first day of the Inquiry.

“You can stay and listen and then we will hear from you once she has concluded her evidence.”

Smith gave less than an hour’s evidence until the Commissioner became aware that the livestream was not working and that the Public Inquiry was taking place without the public.

She adjourned until later in the day but the technical difficulties were still unsolved.

She then asked both Eaton and Smtih’s legal representatives, only named as Mr Williams, if they could return with their clients on Tuesday at 9am to resume.

“Madam Commissioner, with respect, if you are not going to allow us to cross-examine, there is no point in me attending and causing my client to expend further money on a futile endeavour,” Eaton said.

The commissioner replied: “I haven’t made a final decision. I invited you to stay until Ms Smith’s evidence was concluded.”

Earlier, the hearings had started with an address from the Commissioner and the first witness, suspended Mayor Lisa Matthews, was questioned but the livestream was not working.

A transcript of that questioning is on the Office of Local Government website.

The public hearings are expected, well, hoped, to become live on Wednesday, September 29.

The inquiry is tasked with discovering if the Councillors met their obligations under the Local Government Act or whether their decisions since 2017 contributed to the financial position which the Council now finds itself in.

Merilyn Vale

1 Comment on "Council Inquiry – Last Wyong Mayor asks to cross examine first Coast Mayor"

  1. The Circus continues the ‘Public Enquiry’ postponed til October! Really! No respect for the residents of the Central Coast its laughable if it wasn’t so serious! We have one ex Mayor wanting to cross examination of another ex Mayor on day 2 is it to muddy the water or just waste limited time? Who is paying the Commissioner? State government or Central Coast Community? It is supposed to give us clarity and if the first two days are any yardstick its not looking good. I note the mysterious CEO and administrator are wringing more money out of the ratepayers by raising the cost of sewer and water by 34%! The argument is its dearer in other LGAs it a very spurious proposition. There are other factors in those LGAs that determine those costs. And producing the fear factor only works so often when people become aware it no longer works. When Rik said it was only a 15% rate rise it turned out to be 42%! Can he be trusted?

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