The following is a letter to the editor written by Kerrie Duggan and Carl Childs van Wijk, and was originally published by the Huon News on Wednesday, 26 September 2018. Republished here with permission.
We declare our interest in this report as owners of Cygnet Family Practice Pty. Ltd. and previous applicants for the leasing of 14 George Street, Cygnet.
We were advised by the general manager, Huon Valley Council, last Thursday, September 20, that a report, “Potential sale of Medical Centre at 14 George Street, Cygnet,” had been prepared by council, and they would be recommending that the current lease holder, Huon Valley Health Centre Pty. Ltd., be sold the medical centre without community or key stakeholder consultation, or going to an open tendering process.
We were unable to read the report for further information until it was released at 2.30pm Friday, September 21 – the same day as the report was listed for discussion at the next council meeting, today, Wednesday, September 26.
The medical centre is on public land and the council is planning to subdivide the public land with the medical centre, from the remaining council
owned land. To achieve this, they must have an absolute council majority. It is concerning that this report is being tabled just before the new council is elected. When an elected council is present it would require an absolute majority of all councillors for the resolution to be passed. Currently, with the commissioner acting as the council, with that one vote, the resolution could be passed tonight.
The current lease by Huon Valley Health Centre Pty. Ltd. is secure until February 2022. The current lease arrangement meets the Federal Funding Agreement without risk to council as suggested in the report. The lease payments generate ongoing income for the benefit of all Huon Valley ratepayers.
Why the rush to sell without transparent processes, key stakeholder and community consultation?
We are concerned regarding the indecent haste regarding this process, and lack of real consultation with the community and key stakeholders. History has shown us that the issue of a lack of transparency within council resulted in the Huon Valley councillors being sacked. The commissioner has worked hard to reunite the community, and any issue linked to a lack of transparency and due diligence by council can only end in further community disunity, and distrust of the local government.
We propose that tonight at the council meeting, that the commissioner delays receipt of this report to allow for a meaningful discussion and a transparent process.
Details of the report are available on the Huon Valley Council’s website.
Carl Childs van Wijk
Owners Cygnet Family Practice