A Harvey shire councillor has accused shire staff of “rejoicing in indulgences that local government has granted itself” at ratepayers’ expense. The lengthy protest was part of a motion last week presented by Cr Bill Adams. He questioned whether it was necessary for staff to be driving around in new cars. He also condemned the notion of digging out the cash to fund two council chambers. Cr Adams was trying to persuade councillors to vote in favour of critically reviewing the budget and helping ratepayers during the difficult economic times brought on by COVID-19. “I don’t expect to gain a lot of friends from this,” Cr Adams said. He suggested money could be better spent, starting with $200,000 on consultation for a new community hub in Harvey’s town centre. Cr Adams accused shire officers of pushing for the hub because it would mean they got new offices. “The consultation means nothing to local employment,” he said. Cr Adams then slammed the notion of having two council chambers — one in Harvey and another in Australind. “Do we really need two council chambers?” he asked. He then questioned why the chief executive and staff needed cars with regular upgrades. “We need to be prepared to show empathy to ratepayers and in good stewardship of the ratepayers’ dollar,” he said. “Let’s demonstrate to our ratepayers that we are all in this together.” Cr John Bromham said he empathised with Cr Adams, but the council buildings were no longer fit for purpose, with “mould and leaking roofs that did not meet occupational health and safety standards”. He said it was “not appropriate for us” to be telling chief executive Annie Riordan and the people who worked for her what they should be driving. Cr Paul Beech said his philosophy was directly opposed to Cr Adams’. “Local government should show leadership,” Cr Beech said. “We should be borrowing large sums of money for huge projects and following the State and Federal government while the economy is down. “We should be going all-guns-blazing to do everything we can afford to do. “Then, when the economy is good, then reverse that and rely on the private sector.” Cr Derrick Simpson said it was “unfortunate” the examples provided by Cr Adams detracted from his argument. “My interpretation related to reviewing the budget with the subcommittee,” Cr Simpson said. Cr Adams took the floor once again in his right of reply. “Can our ratepayers stand a rate increase” he asked. “Things aren’t the same as they were.” The motion was lost 4-8.