A FACTION of furious councillors have demanded mayor Rod Kendall stand down after the company responsible for the proposed $75 million Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RIFL) hub fell into voluntary administration yesterday.
The shock announcement has prompted a number of councillors to accuse the mayor and council senior staff of failing to undertake adequate due diligence on the project.
“This is an atrocity for the city," Cr Andrew Negline said. “The mayor needs to go, the general manager and senior staff need to be sacked."
While elected councillors have pointed the finger at Wagga City Council’s (WWCC) commercial and economic development director Dr Peter Adams, general manager Phil Pinyon and Mayor Rod Kendall because the process “lacked due diligence”, they have denied the project is under jeopardy, expecting it to go ahead under a different organisational structure.
“It puts the project in jeopardy which is very unfortunate,” Cr Paul Funnell said. “I do feel vindicated for asking questions (throughout the process).”
Cr Julian McLaren is concerned about a “pattern developing”.
“We need to have a close look at the leadership team,” he said.
But Cr Kendall believed no one should step aside.
“It’s not in my power, the general manager’s or Peter Adams’ power to run the company itself,” he said. “Council as a whole makes decisions and councillors as a whole makes decisions … I’m pretty happy with all made at this stage.”
Cr Kendall said quick decisions needed to be made or the $14.6 million federal government grant could be jeopardized.
“The project itself is still yet to be agreed to by both council and Traxion, but all there indicators up until now have been very positive.”
WWCC has no financial exposure to Traxion.
Dr Adams is optimistic the project will go ahead and comfortable with WWCC’s investment in Bomen roads and land acquisitions because it would service the area regardless.
“To a certain extent, in the bigger picture, nothing’s really changed,” he said. “If anything, it will generate more interest.”
Administrator HLB Mann Judd’s Todd Gammel will meet with council staff on Friday and said there was strong interest from parties interested in pursuing the project.