REXIT: Turbulent REX debate recovers from chaotic start

INSULTS, accusations of character assassination and harassment plus a blizzard of points of order characterised two hours of fevered debate at Clarence Valley Council's latest meeting.

A report from the general manager on the decision of Rex Airlines to cease its Grafton to Sydney service from July 3 sought to authorise the mayor Jim Simmons to write to the airline apologising for ­"negative comments" made during debate at its May meeting.

Cr Debrah Novak said it was time Rex "pulled their finger out", an expression the airline said caused offence to Regional Express Holdings executive chairman Lim Kim Hai.

The airline said it was the "hostility of councillors" to the airline that was behind its decision to axe its Grafton service.

After nearly two hours the council voted 8-1 for a resolution which would allow the mayor to advise Rex it regretted the negative comments made during the meeting and how vital its air service was to the region.

Cr Andrew Baker seemed more intent on finding fault.

On legal advice he dropped his original motion in favour of a motion to have the Office of Local Government investigate the meeting procedure to see if there had been misconduct.

Cr Simmons advised the council that it would be asked to consider both Cr Baker's motion and then the officer's recommendation to apologise to Rex.

Cr Baker called a point of order seeking explanation of how the council could overtun meeting practice for this to happen.

The ruling also bothered other councillors, but Cr Simmons persisted with his unusual ruling.

The council solved the issue by voting down an amended version of Cr Baker's motion, which returned debate to the officer's recommendation.

The tenor of debate did not improve. At one stage Cr Peter Ellem described Cr Baker's approach as a "thinly disguised character assassination" of a councillor.

He also said Cr Baker's language was inaccurate and insulting when he used terms such as "grovelling" and "sooking" to describe attitudes of other councillors.

Cr Richie Williamson brought councillors back to the point that it was the need to convince Rex to reinstate its service that was at stake.

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