Eurobodalla Shire Councillor and Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber member Maureen Nathan has hit back at claims she was shouting on the street outside the chamber’s Christmas meeting.
“I didn’t shout, I didn’t wave my stick around, but as I was calling out in response to people, I was louder than a speaking voice,” Cr Nathan said.
Cr Nathan has rejected claims in other media that she had engaged in “on-the-street loud shouting”.
Cr Nathan said she was letting other members of the chamber know she had just been told she was not welcome at the meeting – despite being a member since 1984.
“I have been a member of the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce since before it was the Batemans bay Chamber of Commerce,” she said.
Cr Nathan said she had been invited to the Christmas meeting earlier in the year, and planned to attend with her partner Robert Legeay.
She returned to Batemans Bay on Monday after five days in Jindabyne, and that evening attended the Mogo Chamber of Commerce, of which she is also a member.
On Tuesday, she attended council, before a tourism networking event. She said at the event, she had “easy, informal” conversations with other business owners, and they agreed to speak further the following evening, at the Bay Chamber event.
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On Wednesday, Cr Nathan said Mayor Liz Innes approached her and asked if she would be attending the Chamber Christmas meeting. Ms Nathan said yes. Cr Innes said there had been an email “disinviting” the council.
“I assumed that wasn’t relevant to me as a member of the chamber,” Cr Nathan said.
She said when she arrived at the event, her partner parked in the disabled car space, as Cr Nathan has been undergoing ovarian cancer treatment for the past ten months, and requires a cane to walk.
“I got out of the car, leaning on my walking stick,” Cr Nathan said.
“(Three people) came up to me and said: ‘Didn’t you get the email? You’ve been asked not to come.’
“I said I was a long-term member of the chamber, and had not received an email, and they said it wasn’t their fault if the council had poor communications.”
Cr Nathan said she became emotional, and was crying at one point.
“I could have turned tail and gone home, but I believe they made a wrong call,” she said.
“I said it may well be the last chamber Christmas function I attend (after battling ovarian cancer).
“It was important.”
Cr Nathan said, during the conversation, other members called out greetings to her, and both she and partner Mr Leagay called back.
“I called out ‘no, I’m not welcome tonight’; Robert’s words were: ‘Maureen has been barred tonight’,” she said.
“(A member) came over and said the meeting was over, and I could come in. I went in and was greeted warmly by many, and it was a delightful evening.”
Ms Nathan said she was informed the decision to “disinvite” people had been made at an executive meeting, and as far as she knows, it is not a usual approach.
“I have been involved in many functions over the years, and sometimes people are asked to come a bit later, to allow a meeting – it’s not pleasant, but it’s a protocol,” she said.
She believes the incident was the culmination of a breakdown in communication between the council and the Chamber.
“I believe a great majority of the chamber members have been aware of a deterioration in communications between our president and the council,” she said.
“I believe because of my dual position the issue has been brought to a head.
“This breakdown to me is very sad and needs to be rectified.
“I believe, as a whole, the chamber – as does council – wants to have a cordial, professional relationship in the most populous business center in the shire.”