THE hat-shaped pergola was buried, the $88,000 life-sized bronze sculpture put off until funds can be raised from the community and, after almost an hour of debate, Orange City councillors ended Tuesday’s meeting with no tribute to Banjo Paterson.
History enthusiasts Rodney Tonkin and Elizabeth Griffin urged the councillors to vote against the pergola when they addressed the council at Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr Tonkin wore a bowler hat to emphasise the “insincerity” of the “cheap” Paterson tribute.
Cr Neil Jones and Cr Scott Munro led the charge to scrap the hat, but the main driver of the polarising pergola Cr Chris Gryllis, with support from Cr Ron Gander and Cr Kevin Duffy, attempted to give it the go-ahead provided 50 per cent of the $37,840 bill could be raised from the community.
“It we can raise the money from outside of council finances I can’t see why we can’t proceed,” Cr Gryllis said.
Cr Gander said the hat pergola would be another addition to provide shade at the Botanic Gardens area and was not in competition with the life-sized bronze sculpture of Paterson sitting on a log.
“I think everyone is getting their tiger in a tangle,” he said.
“It’s got nothing to do with shoving Banjo off his log.”
But Cr Jones said a hat-shaped picnic shelter and barbecue was “patently absurd”.
“We really should bury the hat,” he said
“This is about identifying the most appropriate way of having a memorial to Banjo Paterson, but the cost is related of course.”
Cr Jeff Whitton agreed.
“If AB Paterson was here today he’d say ‘why don’t you blokes put this much effort into roads and footpaths’?” he said.
“I don’t know where the hat fits in, and for the dollars I think we can do something else.”
Cr Reg Kidd also reiterated his opposition to the pergola, saying he’d never seen such a strong reaction from the public.
“They don’t even know the full extent of it yet,” he said.
But he continued to support the bronze sculpture, saying the council should honour its earlier commitment to the project.
“This is what the community wanted, and this is what this council wanted unanimously,” he said.
“I think it makes us look a little bit silly when all of a sudden we say ‘no’.”
All councillors supported his suggestion for the council to establish a community committee to raise money for the $88,000 project, similar to a fund-raising initiative to pay for the talking Paterson monument built near the Civic Centre in 2002.