Liberal councillor says "spend it while we can" to Strathfield

A “spend it while we can” plea by Liberal councillor Gulian Vaccari sparked an emotional debate over amalgamation during the Strathfield Council meeting this week.

Cr Vaccari was supporting a mayoral minute calling for an upgrade of facilities at Strathfield Park.

But he sparked anger with this suggestion: “If we are going to get amalgamated, let’s spend some money on our own facilities before other councillors get their hands on it.”

Cr Vaccari later called on council officials to provide a report on unexpired grants, which he suggested might total $2 million.

Save our Strathfield (SoS) co-chair Karen Pensabene stood up, declared “I’m leaving the meeting” and walked out.

As she passed, she called to Cr Vaccari: “It’s a done deal, is it?”

Earlier, Ms Pensabene had chided some councillors for failing to support the last days of the anti-amalgamation campaigning outside railway stations and on the streets, urging them to step up their support.

Her pleas were echoed by Councillor Helen McLucas who urged one of her colleagues to: “Get off your arse.”

Ms Pensabene told councillors to be at Homebush station the following day, where SoS would be handing out copies of the Scene’s anti-amalgamation special edition.

But only Deputy Mayor Andrew Soulos showed up while the Scenewas at the station.

Ms Pensabene used the open forum section of the monthly council meeting to urge councillors to do more in the last days of campaigning.

“We are very angry because we are 10 days away from the state government IPART report and four days away from the biggest rally this council has ever held,” she said.

She maintained that SoS workers had been campaigning for three years “night and day” to save 160 council jobs and stop forced amalgamations.

Apart from councillors McLucas and Daniel Bott, who had attended almost every day, she said the organisation was not getting sufficient support from councillors.

It is time, she declared, to put aside political agendas.

She said 78 per cent of Strathfield residents had voted against forced amalgamation. Now they were asking what councillors were doing.

Mayor Sang Ok apologised that he could not attend the rally on Saturday, October 10, because he would be away on an official sister-city visit in South Korea.

Councillor Raj Datta said he goes to work too early to help at the station, but had helped at weekends.

Cr McLucas urged her colleagues to give more support.

Pointing to council officials around the room, she said: “The are 160 jobs on the
line. These people all go unless you get off your arses.”


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