Mayor’s Monthly Debate Challenge

mark-greenhillPosted by Rob Thompson

Since mid 2015 I have been challenging Mayor Mark Greenhill to a public debate. He consistently refuses my challenge but he is happy to talk about me behind my back when I can’t respond. Listen below to a sample of how he talks about me at Council meetings when I am not present. He completely misrepresents my past statements and then does not have the courage to debate me about it. Here is my “Fit for the Future” web page that he talks about.


As Mark will not debate me, I have thrown open the challenge to our Ward 2 Councillors, Romola Hollywood, Annette Bennett and Chris Van Der Kley. I challenged them at the beginning of July – no response yet but I am still hoping they have more courage than our silent mayor. On the 8th of August I threw open the challenge to Ward 2 Greens candidate Brent Hoare.

Since the start of 2016, I have introduced a monthly topic to add to our debating list.

Here they are:
August Debate Challenge
Why were we not told the truth about Waste Charges?
In my May challenge I accused Mark of not telling the truth about BMCC’s financial position. See below. He did not respond.
The community voted for Option B in the BMCC waste survey which deceptively said charges would be “$7 less per year”.
BMCC Blue Mountains option-B

I just received my letter from BMCC saying my waste fees are going up by $117 every year. This is the increase for about 15,000 households who already have a small 140L garbage bin. This totals to about a $1.75 million revenue difference! How could they get it so badly wrong? How could there be such a massive hole in their budget planning?

For larger households wanting to keep their 240L bin the increase is $125. If you are downgrading from a large to a small red bin there is no increase.

The increase in waste charges is on top of the 40% rates rise which is now being phased in. You can download my notification letter here. This is going to cause a lot of pain for many members of our community. Pensioners who mostly already have the smaller red bins will be hardest hit. We should have been told the truth before we voted. I would like an explanation for this.

July 2016 Challenge:
Honesty in Politics:
This federal election was the lowest point for Australian politics in my life. Dishonesty, scare tactics, self interest and a complete lack of vision for our future. All of the Australian population are the losers.
Mark, my challenge to you this month is to explain how ambitious party politicians like you are good for our democracy.

June 2016 Challenge:
Why don’t you respond?
This month it is a very simple challenge. It is now a year since I first challenged Mark to a debate but he simply will not do it. Why does our mayor, Mark Greenhill still refuse to debate me? Mark has a long history as a political staffer and pre-selection candidate. It is time for him to stand up and speak for what he stands for.

May 2016 Challenge: 
Time for BMCC to tell the truth.
Last October 2015 we received our rates notice with a newsletter from our mayor, Mark Greenhill saying …mark-balanced-budget-torn-paper
At the time he said this, BMCC was already forecasting an $8.6 million loss for this year. Now it has blown out to a $10.1 million loss.
In late May, the Blue Mountains’ Gazette published my letter challenging Mark to explain why he made what appears to be a blatantly untrue statement. There was no response from our mayor. I believe that Mark’s silence condemns him.
You can download here documentation which details these losses at BMCC.

April 2016 Challenge:
Getting clever with Waste.
This month the topic is green waste and waste management in general…..Our new green waste is going to be trucked to the Australian National Landscapes plants at Blayney and Badgerys Creek to be processed into low value landscaping fill. $2 million a year it is going to cost to have dozens of trucks wrecking our roads and spewing out greenhouse gases. The green waste will then be processes with bulldozers and heavy machinery and spill out one of the worse greenhouse gases…methane. This page has more information.
My topic to Mark this month is “Why can’t BMCC do something clever with our waste?

March 2016 Challenge:
The Hub – The Failure
The Springwood Hub Theatre is running at a massive loss. It costs half a million dollars a year to run and only attracts 4-5 shows a month. All at a time when BMCC is putting up rates.
Building a professional theatre only a 20 minute drive drive from the Dame Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and the Panthers’ Evan Theatre was complete lunacy. The touring and professional shows want to go to the larger population centre.
This month I invite Mayor Mark to discuss how we can turn a white elephant into a vibrant community asset. Have a look at this page for more information

February 2016 Challenge:
How will a BMCC building last for 200 years? Sadly this isn’t a joke.

In 2012 Blue Mountains City Council lost $8 million.
By 2013 they were facing a shocker of a loss …about $16 million. Then depreciation expenses “miraculously” and very suddenly dropped by $14 million and saved the day…..and they have saved the accounts from disaster every year since.
Depreciation is the amount every year you should be putting away to replace assets when they wear out.
How did this amazing drop happen and why was it done very, very quietly?
High depreciation used to be a passport to get a rates rise approved by The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). It was used in 2013 by BMCC to justify a permanent rates rise.
But in the “Fit for the Future” world there was a new way of assessing Councils with an “Infrastructure Renewals Ratio”. This made high depreciation a dirty word. You can find out all about it at this page
So my challenge is to Mark to talk about why depreciation expenses at BMCC went on a roller coaster ride and why they are claiming that some buildings and roads will be lasting 200 years.

January 2016 Challenge:
Where has all the Bushfire money gone?
BMCC has received millions of dollars of government funding and millions of dollars of donations.
In my area which is highly bushfire prone, nothing at all has changed. No evacuation information or plans. No street by street preparedness programs. No neighbourhood fire-watch programs so the elderly and disabled don’t get trapped or left behind.
There have been been plenty of committees, steering groups, advisory panels and reference groups but the lack of transparency and accountability is breathtaking.