Party antics set councillor and mayor on angry collision course

SHOALHAVEN Mayor Joanna Gash has been accused of breaking a pre-election commitment to quit the Liberal Party once she retired from federal politics.

The accusation was made by Greens councillor Amanda Findley after Cr Gash was elected as a NSW female senate selector at the Gilmore Federal Electoral Conference annual general meeting at Worrigee House last Tuesday.

Cr Findley said she had witnessed Cr Gash make the commitment and wanted to hold her to account.

“Cr Gash needs to understand that she made a public statement. She made it on more than one occasion. She made that statement at community forums as a mayoral candidate,” Cr Findley said. 

“Eighteen months down the track she is trying to deepen her involvement in the Liberal Party, running for powerful positions within the local party.

“I think she’s doing that to shore up her support from her extensive Liberal connections for herself and for her housemate [Gilmore MP] Ann Sudmalis.”

Cr Findley said the close relationship between the Mayor and the Liberal MP was evident

in the number of times she had seen Mrs Sudmalis in the Shoalhaven City Council administration centre.

“It would be appropriate if they didn’t live under the same roof but it seems there’s a heavy reliance on each other in getting the job done,” she said.

“There is obviously reliance by Shoalhaven Liberals, particularly Ann Sudmalis, on their matriarch Joanna Gash to guide their party.”

Cr Findley said she had raised the issue because at last week’s ordinary meeting of council fellow Liberal Andrew Guile had made a less than significant non-pecuniary interest declaration about a director of Soilco being a former member of the Liberal Party, however Cr Gash did not make the same declaration, nor did Cr Jemma Tribe, who is also a member of the party.

Cr Gash steadfastly refused to be drawn on the issue.

“I’m not making any comment. It is a private issue. Amanda Findley wasn’t there when I made that statement. If she wants to raise it she should call me,” Cr Gash said. 

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