Council meeting Monday 25 August, Rye Civic Hall. Presentation on Point Nepean development proposal, a fine dinner, council meeting highlighted by the swearing-in of new Red Hill ward councillor Tim Wood.
THIS was The Moment, especially for residents of Red Hill ward. Effectively disenfranchised since former councillor Frank Martin fell ill in December 2013, we hinterland wardies were keen to see new man Tim Wood, declared byelection winner on Saturday, sworn in and taking his seat at the council table.
Word was that the induction was not to occur until 8 September, but councillor-elect Wood is a man in a hurry. He was all set to take the oath of office after the formal declaration of the poll earlier in the day.
No impediment stood in his path. He could well have had a Bible in his pocket to ensure the oath could be administered post haste.
But The Moment had to wait until a little after 7pm. CW thought he detected tension in the ceremony, in what appeared the perfunctory handshake between new councillor and CEO Michael Kennedy, in the slightly strained smiles for the camera recording the start of this new epoch.
Mayor Antonella Celi invited now-councillor Wood to give “a little bit of a welcome speech, or a word of thanks … say something?” before he took his seat. They were the words of a man at ease with public speaking. And his last words for his first meeting; a retired judge he might be, but of course a tyro in this chamber. For tonight, a listener.
Councillor seating had altered since Frank Martin was last in the chamber. Cr Wood was placed between fellow naval man Cr David Garnock and veteran councillor Anne Shaw, possibly to have her experience at his left elbow. She is famed for her Part Bs. CW thinks he can recall one Part C.
His first procedural moment came early, when Cr Celi dealt with Item 2.3, confirmation of the minutes of the last council meeting. “Anyone against,” she asked. “All those in favour; all those in favour? Cr Wood? Are you in favour or against? Show of hands. Thank you.”
CW could not see if Cr Wood raised his hand for the vote. Was the new man abstaining? He was not – of course – at the previous council meeting and thus – of course – could vote neither for nor against the minutes of a meeting he had not attended. Such trifles are known as slips that pass in the night.
Then, the meeting. Something was different this evening: councillors were coming through the speakers loud and clear, apart from one or two who occasionally forgot to turn on their microphones.
That was it! The sound system was working, and it looked different. Was it new, a replacement for the more modern-looking mikes that regularly sputtered to a halt? Apparently not; rather, it was old but reliable, rather like many of those listening attentively in the gallery.