Kempsey Shire Councillors passed a unanimous recommendation at the April council meeting thanking and acknowledging the exceptional commitment, professionalism and leadership of the General Manager and staff of Kempsey Shire Council during the March 2021 Macleay Valley Natural Flood Disaster.
The mayoral minute was tabled at the meeting following the request from the Local Emergency Operations Controller (LEOCON), Detective Chief Inspector Darren Jameson, to place on public record his correspondence and thanks to council staff for managing the flood event.
Mayor Liz Campbell read the letter sent by Insp Jameson during the meeting, detailing his appreciation of the professionalism, knowledge, counsel and commitment displayed during the emergency situation.
"I want to pass on my sincere thanks to all at council on the work done recently in the 2021 floods. The professionalism and knowledge displayed by Craig Milburn to the emergency situation was flawless and very much appreciated by me in my role as LEOCON," Insp Jameson wrote to Mayor Campbell.
The letter from Insp Jameson went on to say that the individual and collective contributions to the safety and well-being of the community by council staff made a difference to the success of the operation.
"I don't think I've ever received correspondence the way that we received it in acknowledgement of our staff and the General Manager from our LEOCON," Mayor Campbell said.
The recommendation was met with some criticism which lead to a heated discussion after Councillor Leo Hauville spoke against the motion.
"There will be a precedent that will be set if we do this. The staff have done an amazing job, but isn't that their job to do?" Cr Hauville said.
"They have done their very best, but there has been a system failure at Stuarts Point and what happened there with the effluent flooding and we shouldn't be patting ourselves on the back for that."
Mayor Campbell responded by stating that the recommendation was for acknowledging the people and not the failures of operational systems that occurred during the flood.
I witnessed firsthand what had taken place and the dedication of our staff. And yes, they were doing their job, but sometimes people go above and beyond.- Mayor Liz Campbell
Councillor Sue McGinn spoke for the recommendation and said that the motion was tabled to thank staff who went above and beyond during the flood crisis.
"I can't image why anyone would not support this recommendation. Our personal circumstance was horrendous and catastrophic and we are not alone, many people have endured hardship because of this flood," she said.
"What I would like to do is congratulate and thank those who have gone above and beyond what you would normally expect."
Following the discussion, Mayor Campbell reiterated that she was asked to put this on public record by the LEOCON.
"This recommendation is purely acknowledging the staff and formally thanking them in response to what we received from Insp Jameson," she said.
"I witnessed firsthand what had taken place and the dedication of our staff. And yes, they were doing their job, but sometimes people go above and beyond."
The recommendation acknowledging council staff's work during the flood was passed unanimously.
"Madam Mayor, that was unanimous. You persuaded me, thank you," Cr Hauville said.
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