Much has been said about this experiment that has been going on since 2019 but the lack of financial reporting has been of huge concern to the Chamber. Some see this as a worthwhile scientific experiment while others see it as a waste of money.

The Chamber along with seven other organisations made representations to Council and whilst Council decided to vote in favour of giving this project another 18 months to be able to claim $970,000 of ratepayers’ money, some safeguards were imposed on further negotiations.

Mayor Stewart moved an amendment to review the procurement and administrative procedures and key risks of this project. The motion was carried with a 4/3 vote.

Councillor Finzel moved an amendment to contact The Nature Conservancy in writing to request to see all receipts and financials. For instance, in their accounts they report spending $265,000 on volunteers/marketing etc. but does not disclose who were the contractors/recipients of these $265,000 of ratepayers’ funds.

The motion also calls for any future agreements or extensions of this agreement to include full and proper disclosure of the spending of funds and for this agreement to comply with Council’s own acquittal policy. This motion was also carried 4/3.

Councillor Lorentson moved a motion asking for community consultation. This vote was lost 4/3.

The three Councillors who voted against the above mentioned motions were Councillors Wilkie, Stockwell and Wegener.