A meeting between MP Paul Toole, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, the Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce president Angela O’Connor and Lithgow councillor Darryl Goodwin in Sydney last week about the uncertainty facing Springvale Mine and local business has attracted criticism from Lithgow’s mayor.
Mayor Stephen Lesslie said councillor Darryl Goodwin had not sought appropriate approval from council to attend the meeting, in a statement published on Lithgow City Council’s Facebook page entitled ‘secret meeting and missed opportunity’.
“Councillor Goodwin has not attended our discussions with Centennial and he has had no briefing on the issues we wish to raise with the NSW Government on behalf of Centennial, so unfortunately Lithgow has missed an opportunity on this occasion to gain the certainty for employment of our mining community and Centennial that is so necessary for their long term future,” Mr Lesslie said.
“I personally had no knowledge of the invitation extended to Councillor Goodwin and no invitation was extended to either the Deputy Mayor or myself, but both the Deputy Mayor and I would have certainly supported the Chamber had the opportunity been afforded to either of us,” he said.
The meeting was publicized by the LDCC on Facebook and appeared in a front page story in the Lithgow Mercury on September 25. Ms O’Connor said Cr Darryl Goodwin had asked the chamber if he could also attend the meeting.
“Darryl approached the Chamber as a concerned resident and offered his personal time to attend the meeting to help lobby for a positive outcome,” she said.
“When approached by Darryl, it was felt his presence and firsthand knowledge of the impact of unemployment in the area would contribute to the meeting. He is a police officer, a board member of the Workmen’s Club, a retained fireman, and he is also involved with sporting bodies; as well as being elected by the people of Lithgow.”
O’Connor said she did not think the criticism was valid.
“This meeting was an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce. It would appear the criticism of both Darryl and the Chamber is an overreaction.”
“The Chamber has been proactive in making it clear they are happy to form a cohesive working relationship with the Council,” Ms O’Connor said.
“We are proudly sponsoring Halloween and had in place a business networking breakfast to involve the Council Executive staff.”
Ms O’Connor described the meeting as positive.
“...it was stated by the ministers that the government was developing a plan and an announcement would be made soon,” she said.
Mayor Lesslie said more transparency was needed.
“We do however need something more concrete and transparent than the promise of a plan that is being worked on behind the scenes,” he said.
Cr Goodwin was contacted for comment but did not reply before the deadline.