STALEMATE: Flood group and council at crossroads

The Gawler River Flood Management Authority (GRFMA) will not proceed with a review of its charter until it has been determined whether Adelaide Plains Council will remain part of the authority or finalise their withdrawal, in what has been coined a stalemate by Playford Council’s CEO, Mal Hemmerling.

The authority held its monthly ordinary meeting in Mallala on Thursday, October 19, at the APC council chambers, the main item of discussion being whether a charter review should be conducted while the APC is still formally pursuing its withdrawal from the authority.

Executive officer, David Hitchcock, informed the member councils he had taken the time to seek expert advice on a process to undertake a review. However, Mr Hemmerling quickly turned talk from the process of the review to APC’s precarious membership as one of the constituent councils on the authority.

“I think we’ve got a fundamental question here about what the future is of the GRFMA?”

Marc Salver, of Adelaide Hills Council, echoed the sentiments of Mr Hemmerling, stating, “We need to resolve the issue of APC first.”

Mr Salver then described an alternative process elected members of APC should have undertaken rather than the pushing for an immediate withdrawal.

“What should have happened was a letter to say, ‘We are potentially seeking to leave unless we have a review of the charter that has a more equitable distribution of the costings’ etc.”

“You have made it absolutely clear ‘we are out’, and I think that is a concern.

“It begs the question, do we carry on now (with a charter review) or do we hold off until we’ve dealt with the freefall?”

APC CEO, James Miller, said members of the APC are aware the charter review may be deferred until a decision on its withdrawal is made, but stressed APC is still very much at the table until such times as minister for local government, Geoff Brock, makes a determination.

“You are married until you are divorced,” he said.

“We are still married to our five affiliate councils.”

Mr Hemmerling then replied to Mr Miller, saying, “I hear what you say, but it is not as simple as that.”

“The very fact we are in this position has stopped any consideration of funding, it has brought us to a stalemate, irrespective of whether you are sitting around the table or not, your public position is stated.”

Ian Baldwin, Independent Chairperson of the GRFMA, reiterated APC has committed to a course of action and is not wanting to change that course of action.

“We have a situation that creates a bit of an issue for us, well and truly,” he said.

After much toing and froing over the table between APC’s board members and the other constituent council’s representatives, in relation to APC’s inability to pay its contribution of the $27 million proposed Northern Floodway, as well as the suitability of the floodway for its council area, it was resolved to leave the matter for decision until December.

By this time, Minister Brock should have made a decision on APC’s ability to withdraw from the authority, after which time a charter review may go forward with a clearer picture of what the GRFMA will look like.

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