Alexandrina Council is seeking to approve an Alexandrina Sustainable Agricultural Round Table, but one nominated member had councillors in debate.
On Monday, June 20, the Alexandrina Council meeting debated on whether Member for Finniss and former Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, David Basham should be included in the 12-person industry member representative, Alexandrina Sustainable Agricultural Round Table.
The round table membership would potentially consist of the Mayor, a maximum of three councillors and between six and 12 industry representatives with at least one from: agriculture, viticulture, horticulture. forestry and fishing areas.
Councillor Bill Coomans said that he was in no way affiliated with any political party, but would not support the round table if changes were not made.
"There should be some balance and I feel it would inappropriate to have a local member on the round table," Cr Coomans said.
"Even (if it was) the Member for Mawson, who takes in a part of Alexandrina, he was a minister for agriculture, forest and fishing.
"I would have thought that person would bring a bit of balance to the community. I'm not going to support this is this person becomes a member."
Cr, Bronwyn Lewis agreed with Cr Coonmans sentiments.
"I think having an elected member of a designated party is really inappropriate for a community committee," Cr Lewis said.
"If it was balanced with a member from a different party, or several then that would be alright.
"I have nothing against his experience and he certainly has the criteria, but the problem with having someone of his status on a committee, it makes it unethical."
Cr, Melissa Rebbeck wanted to potentially modify the motion that would still see Mr Basham at the table, but in a different aspect.
"I propose that we leave the members as is and David Basham can attend as a non-voting member," Cr Rebbeck said.
"Mr Basham said he would be there in his private time and I think this committee is about economic development in our region and as ex-minister for primary industries, he can bring that to the table.
"Agriculture has been overlooked in the past years and it has taken some time to get this committee together.
"Having someone like that to support and have the insights to economic development, I trust this will go through."
A formal motion to consider this "out of the meeting and bring it back to the following meeting" was declared by Cr Michael Scott.
"I'm not comfortable with one person being picked out as a non-voting member," Cr Scott said.
"I think we need to work through this. We're talking about a person who has been a Minister for the Crown.
"I was a part of the working group along with Cr Rebbeck to get this group going and I don't think we should make a decision on the run."
The vote was a draw to bring the topic back, leaving Mayor Keith Parkes with the decider - he voted in favour to have the matter adjourned until the July council meeting.
Mr Basham told The Times he had a passion for the industry and submitted an expression of interest (EOI) according to the council's terms.
"The Sustainable Agriculture Round Table is a progressive project instigated by the Alexandrina council and I commend Business Alexandrina on the initiative," he said.
"The terms of reference for the Round Table have been set and respectfully I have submitted an EOI according to the terms of reference.
"My passion, long term career and interest is agriculture. My CV reflects significant expertise and experience in varied aspects of agriculture. I feel I can be of service to this Round Table for our region.
"My selection is at the behest of council and I trust the process will drive the best decision for people in the agriculture sector of Alexandrina regardless of personal preferences."
The proposed committee would be comprised of Tom Adams, David Basham, Beck Burgess, John Byrne, Nathan Duffield, Trish Eats, Neil Harvey, Mel Hollick, Lian Jaensch, Trevor Linke, Chris Littlejohn and Rob Parken as industry member representatives to the Alexandrina Sustainable Agricultural Round Table until June 2024.
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