The NSW government has been slammed for putting Blue Mountains City Council on notice following the discovery of asbestos in several of its council-owned workplaces.
The council was slapped with a notice of intention of suspension by NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton on Wednesday following serious allegations relating to its asbestos management practices.
“I am concerned the council is not functioning effectively following the volume and scope of recent regulatory notices issued by SafeWork NSW and the Environment Protection Authority,” Ms Upton said in a statement.
But Mayor Mark Greenhill insists it’s “politically motivated” as a result of the council’s history of holding the government to account when it has failed the community.
“They announced the investigation on Monday, it hasn’t even started, and on Wednesday morning they’re seeking to stand us aside,”.
“It’s a very big call before we have even had the chance to defend ourselves … there’s absolutely no procedural fairness. This is payback.”
SafeWork NSW launched the investigation on Monday after being made aware of alleged asbestos mismanagement at several Blue Mountains City Council-managed workplaces, including the preschool, library, citizens’ hall and council depot.
While Mr Greenhill admitted there were asbestos issues in the Blue Mountains he said the council had complied with all the government’s requests.
Greens MP David Shoebridge says it’s a “serious misstep” by Ms Upton after a local Greens councillor helped uncover the asbestos contamination.
“It would be an act of political bastardry to sack the councillors who have been working to keep residents and staff safe,” Mr Shoebridge said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The local government minister and this state government need to back away from another heavy-handed threat against a local council.”
The council has seven days to respond to the notice and put forward an alternative case or face being suspended and an interim administrator appointed.
Mr Greenhill said the council was considering its legal options.