Wollongong mayor says fire-affected council leaders should be paid more - Illawarra Greens

Wollongong mayor says fire-affected council leaders should be paid more

Greens Councillor Mithra Cox said words couldn't do justice to the sadness surrounding the loss of life and spoke of her own family's distress as her childhood home in Kangaroo Valley came under threat. Cr Cox also gained support for a suggestion to thank the ABC and its staff, acknowledging that during the height of the crisis, radio was the most up-to-date communication channel and, during power and phone outages, the only way for people to access life-saving information.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 5 February 2020

Wollongong mayor says fire-affected council leaders should be paid more

Horror summer: Wollongong councillors paid tribute to the people in surrounding council areas - like the Shoalhaven, picturesd here - who have been affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis.
Horror summer: Wollongong councillors paid tribute to the people in surrounding council areas - like the Shoalhaven, picturesd here - who have been affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis.

In a tribute at this year's first meeting, Cr Bradbery acknowledged those who have helped and been affected during the crisis.

He spoke of the tragic loss of life, thanked emergency services and the praised the efforts of Wollongong council staff who had lent support to the surrounding fire-affected areas.

He also named Bega Valley's Kristie McBain, Eurobodalla's Liz Innes, Shoalhaven's Amanda Findley, Wingecarribee's Duncan Gair and Wollondilly's Matthew Deeth for their "outstanding job".

"I truly believe they are underpaid, it's a measly $60,000 that they get annually for what they have contributed and how they continue to work," he said.

"I know they don't do it for the money but there have been some outstanding efforts by those mayors and their councils."

Cr Bradbery also announced the council would stage a relief concert at Wollongong Town Hall on February 29 and March 1, featuring Wollongong-born conductor Jennifer Condon.

Funds will go to the mayors of surrounding councils to distribute.

Help to rebuild: Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery pledged Wollongong's ongoing help as neighbouring councils rebuild. Pictures: Sylvia Liber.

Help to rebuild: Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery pledged Wollongong's ongoing help as neighbouring councils rebuild. Pictures: Sylvia Liber.

Other councillors added support to Cr Bradbery's motion, speaking of their own experiences throughout summer.

Cr David Brown said the extreme summer showed why the council had declared a climate emergency.

"There was a section of the community who gave us some criticism asking 'what is the emergency'," he said.

"Well it seems to me that if you're living somewhere on the South Coast or elsewhere in the state and you have a wall of flame coming towards your house, then you have a pretty clear view of what an emergency looks like."

Greens' Mithra Cox said words couldn't do justice to the sadness surrounding the loss of life, and spoke of her experience at being unable to shield her young children from the disaster.

"I know many people have tried to shield their kids from the worst of it, but I'm sorry to say that my kids were in the thick of it, as we cancelled all our summer holiday plans to care or my family, who were repeatedly evacuated from Kangaroo Valley for lengthy periods," she said.

"They were there as we anxiously huddled around the radio on January 4th, watching the fire get closer and closer to our family home - a house that we had built with our own hands when I was a child."

"While we did our best to enjoy our days together there was no denying the anxiety that everyone was carrying."

Cr Cox also gain support for a suggestion to thank the ABC and its staff, acknowledging that during the height of the crisis, radio was the most up-to-date communication channel and, during power and phone outages, the only way for people to access life-saving information.

Dom Figliomeni said the fires had reached the "front door step" of his sister-in-law's house and had come within a kilometre of his own property, but that both homes had been saved by thanks to the Rural Fire Service.

"This fire, this devastation has brought out the best in our community and the way they work together," he said