Wendouree MP Sharon Knight has delivered a scathing attack on Ballarat City councillors for questioning major state government projects, arguing the council’s queries are undermining Ballarat’s ability to attract investment.
In a private letter addressed to mayor Samantha Mclntosh seen by The Courier, Ms Knight listed a multitude of projects which councillors have voiced concern about, saying “I am concerned that recent actions by council and by councillors undermines the confidence organisations should have in the City of Ballarat”.
Among the instances listed was the Ballarat City Council’s query over the Ballarat Station Precinct development, where Cr Mclntosh raised a number of concerns surrounding heritage including the use of the historic goods shed.
In the letter Ms Knight said “I am deeply disappointed that the leadership and consistency required to effectively advocate for our city is not coming from the City of Ballarat”.
The letter also took aim at councillor Amy Johnson over her criticisms of the Mars Stadium development and the proposed Remembrance Drive speed limit change, which council approved.
Western Victoria MP Joshua Morris raised the issue in the Legislative Council on Tuesday night, saying “I remind the member for Wendouree that councillors take an oath to act in the best interests of their community — something the Ballarat council is certainly doing at present”.
Ms Knight also criticised councillors and council officers for not adequately explaining the purposes of the $7 million Mair Street upgrade to traders concerned about changes to parking.
Cr Mclntosh said it was important leaders recognised not everybody would have the same views on major projects.
“I think it’s important everyone has an individual voice and the community want to know each councillor is an individual with their own views,” Cr Mclntosh said.
“We wouldn’t be doing the right thing if we didn’t question things along the way.”
Ms Knight said the point of the private letter to the mayor “was to highlight my concerns about their criticism of projects they lobbied for”.
“They want to play politics at the expense of investment and jobs. I don't,” Ms Knight told The Courier.
“This behaviour of asking for something, and then knocking it, is not in the best interests of Ballarat. “