Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will defer a decision on the rescission of its Climate Change Response Policy until it finds out what the community thinks.
This comes following the Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams' parliamentary criticism of council's handling of the issue.
A mayoral minute presented to Thursday's (May 19) Ordinary Council Meeting resulted in councillors agreeing to include questions on climate change in the upcoming Micromex Community Satisfaction Survey.
"I have brought this into council on the back of the Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams' speech in Parliament," Mayor Peta Pinson said.
"We have been hearing strongly from Climate Change Australia and Veterinarians for Climate Change and I would like to balance those discussions with people from the broader community.
"This survey will go to a broad range of people in the community, at random."
Climate change has been a hot topic for council and the community over the past few months. Council revoked its Climate Change Emergency Declaration at the February 2022 council meeting, becoming the first council in the state to do so.
Any reference to the declaration was later removed from council's Climate Change Response Policy.
Council also replaced references to "climate change" with "sustainable resource management" in the community-devised roadmap for the region's future, Imagine2050. Council adopted this plan at its extraordinary meeting on April 28, but requested its chief executive officer replace the references to climate change.
In a Port Macquarie News and Camden Haven Courier federal election reader poll, climate change emerged as voters' number one priority.
Cr Pinson said including a question in the Micromex survey in July and August will allow council to better understand the community's position on the issue.
"I want to thank our Member for Port Macquarie for bringing this into parliament. It has made me reflect on the best course of action, which will be to listen to the broad range of our community," she said.
Deputy mayor Adam Roberts agreed: "We will be hearing from the broader base of the community. We haven't done a study or survey on this issue and it's a chance to get real data."
Councillor Rachel Sheppard put forward a lengthy amendment and raised some concerns she had with the original motion.
"My concern is that whatever we put to the community, we need to make sure they're the right questions to get a sense of the situation," she said.
Councillor Lisa Intemann agreed: "Climate change is not something that is separate. It needs to be integrated into council's agenda."
Following unsuccessful amendments put forward by councillors Lauren Edwards and Lisa Intemann and after discussing the topic for almost an hour and a half, councillors moved the mayoral minute - 5 to 4 - with councillors Intemann, Danielle Maltman, Pinson, Roberts and Josh Slade for and councillors Edwards, Sharon Griffiths, Nik Lipovac and Sheppard against.
The question to be included in the Micromex survey is:
Which of the following statements do you agree with?
"The budget has a finite amount of resources," Cr Pinson said.
"My view is that the main issue is the cost of living and housing. Climate change has been part of the discussion, but not at the forefront
"The survey is opportune (to include questions on climate change) and it won't cost any extra money."
A request for council's chief executive officer to provide a report to the September 2022 council meeting on the Micromex Community Satisfaction Survey results in conjunction with a report on the rescission or otherwise of the Climate Change Response Policy, was also included in the mayoral minute.
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