Threatening message to Deputy Mayor a 'misunderstanding'
A TEXT message sent to the wrong person has left Tweed Shire Councillors scrambling to defend themselves.
Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes received a text message addressed to Mayor Katie Milne during the council meeting last Thursday, sent by Tweed Water Alliance spokesman Jeremy Tager.
The message came after councillors, including Cr Byrne, approved a development application for a water extraction facility at Uki.
However, the decision was immediately rescinded by the mayor until the next planning meeting in October.
The application, submitted on behalf of former NSW Labor minister Jack Hallam, has been under intense fire from Uki residents over concerns for road safety and traffic management as well as the potential impact of water extraction on surrounding aquifers.
The text message expressed Mr Tager's disappointment in Cr Byrne's decision to support the application and asked Cr Milne for her thoughts on what to do next.
"Hi Katie, thanks so much for your efforts and informed and impassioned speech... it was inspiring," Mr Tager's text message read.
"I'd love to hear more about the rescission motion and discuss how to burn Byrnes...Talk soon?"
While Mr Tager, who is not a member of any political party, admits he sent the text message, he told Tweed Daily News he wasn't intending to issue a threat to Cr Byrnes, he simply wanted to find out ways to ensure Cr Byrnes was held accountable for his decision.
"There was nothing in there except for the words of disappointment and anger and compared to the actions we saw in council, it was nothing," Mr Tager said.
"The decision was completely disgraceful.
"Katie has a lot of political experience and I wanted to know how to influence (Cr Byrnes) politically. He's clearly been influenced by Jack Hallam. He voted for a mate instead of the public interest and good."
But Cr Byrnes has denied his party connection with Mr Hallam was the reason he supported the application, explaining he based his decision off the expert advice in the council reports.
Meanwhile, Cr Milne said her professional relationship with Cr Byrnes would not be tarnished by the text message but she hoped he would reconsider his decision ahead of the October meeting.
"It is with great regret, that the message contained negative connotations regarding Cr Byrnes, and did not in any way, reflect my sentiments towards the councillor," Cr Milne told Tweed Daily News.
"This was a one-off, unfortunate mishap that I feel is best left to rest, as Cr Byrnes and I have a constructive and excellent collegial history.
"Of course, in having said this, like the possible ramifications of a random text message, so too are there looming ramifications from the recent decision made at the last council meeting.
"Tweed Water Alliance went to great lengths to provide council with a review of the applicant's hydrological report that raises serious questions about the impacts of this proposal.
"The residents mentioned, as well as myself and other council members, are mystified that the report, which was undertaken by one of Australia's foremost groundwater scientists, seemed to be completely ignored."