Home' Yorke Peninsula Country Times : September 11, 2018 Contents 2 Yorke Peninsula Country Times Tuesday, September 11, 2018
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Harder resigns – how did we get here?
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POLARISING would be the best word to
describe Copper Coast Council CEO Peter
Harder’s seven-year tenure.
“Did you hear the good news? Peter Harder
resigned.” A couple of people told me that at
different stages on Saturday. Others were not
so happy. One told me Mr Harder’s
resignation was a shame. Another described it
as devastating. Perhaps polarising is an
No matter your views on the subject, Mr
Harder has done a lot in his time as CEO.
His biggest achievements are likely the
projects previous administrations had failed
to get off the ground – like the community
wastewater management scheme for Moonta
and surrounds, and the Copper Coast Sport
and Leisure Centre redevelopment – or those
which had run into trouble until Mr Harder’s
intervention – like the Wallaroo town centre
redevelopment. Hopefully the Kadina CBD
redevelopment is similarly successful. As
someone with a young family I am thankful
for Mr Harder’s involvement in the leisure
centre, Splash Town, the indoor play cafe, the
cycling/walking trail between Kadina and
Wallaroo, and more. Perhaps the best vote of
confidence in the CEO’s ability came from
most of the council’s elected members. That
includes successful businesspeople who
would surely not have let him implement
such projects if they thought he was putting
the community in a dire financial position.
The CEO had a grand vision for the area,
and as he pursued that vision he undoubtedly
rubbed certain people the wrong way. Some
were unhappy with how he went about
implementing plans, policies and council
rules. Some wondered why millions were
being thrown at major projects when the
roads past their houses still hadn’t been
bituminised. Some worried about the council
taking on debt. Perhaps above all else many
felt they had no hope of getting anywhere
with their concerns, because most councillors
supported Mr Harder’s vision for the area.
The rainbow flag incident showed councillors
would bend to the CEO’s wishes when push
came to shove.
For many people, gripes turned into
grudges and then into vendettas. Some time
ago I spoke with a person who had been
engaged in ongoing disagreements with
council. He informed me many of the people
who had been similarly unhappy planned to
group together. “What will the aim of the
group be?” I asked. The reply: “To get rid of
Soon after the Copper Coast Residents and
Ratepayers Association was formed. The
individuals who felt their voices were not
being heard were suddenly amplified. This
group has every right to voice its views about
council. Robust discussion and varying
opinions are vital for an engaged community.
And I doubt all members explicitly aimed to
remove Mr Harder as the CEO, although I’m
sure several key members rejoiced when he
Undoubtedly, some of these people have
been in the front of Mr Harder’s mind when
he says he has been bullied. There is a big
difference between disagreeing with
somebody and making hateful comments
toward them and their family, and I’d
sincerely hope even Mr Harder’s most vocal
opponents would agree that is not on. It must
be mentioned some ratepayers have claimed,
in response to Mr Harder’s allegations, the
CEO bullied them.
Mr Harder had supporters but they weren’t
as vocal as his opponents. Why would they
be? People who are happy have no cause to
make noise the way people who are upset do.
The negative voices won out. The people who
wanted Mr Harder gone got their wish.
Elections are just around the corner.
Copper Coast Council will have a new CEO, a
new mayor and several new elected members.
Nobody knows what the next council’s focus
will be, or what it will achieve. The only
certainty is whoever is in charge next will find
it impossible to please all the people all the
time. Let’s give them a chance anyway.
Nick Perry, Editor
Copper Coast’s loss
IT is with much sadness Copper Coast Council
CEO Peter Harder has resigned. What makes it
even sadder is he’s been forced into this decision
through harassment and bullying from a small
number of ratepayers.
Peter came to the Copper Coast Council seven
years ago full of enthusiasm and drive. He has
taken projects which had been on the back
burner for years and brought them to life,
delivering them on time and budget. These
include the Moonta, Moonta Bay and Port
Hughes sewerage scheme, Wallaroo main street,
Port Hughes boat ramp, Copper Coast Sport and
Leisure Centre, Kadina business precinct, Splash
Town, the North Beach Tourist Park upgrades
and many more.
Along with major projects, council has
reconstructed or resealed dozens of kilometres of
roads and cement footpaths and kept up rubbish,
parks and gardens, libraries, coastal issues and
general maintenance items.
We may not always agree with everything
council does, but that’s no excuse for people to
verbally abuse, threaten and harass the CEO, his
wife and his children. It is too easy to be a gutless,
faceless individual posting slanderous remarks on
The Copper Coast Residents and Ratepayers
Association, which represents a very small
percentage of our population, seems hellbent on
opposing every council decision. A lot of
ratepayers’ money has been spent defending
complaints from members of this association
about councillors and council staff. All
complaints have been proven unfounded.
Come on Copper Coast residents, stand up for
the good our council does. Don’t let the vocal
minority take us back to the dark ages. We will
soon vote for councillors and a mayor. Vote wisely
as to whom will work diligently, harmoniously
and with foresight for this community.
Thank you, Peter, for all you’ve done for our
community. We wish you great success.
Dean and Helen Rodda, Kadina
Bullying no excuse
I TAKE offence at someone who uses bullying as
an excuse for his massive failings, as Peter Harder
has done upon resigning as CEO of the Copper
I found him to be arrogant and lacking in
people skills. The best thing that could happen
would be for him to leave this area, and before he
goes I want everything he’s done to be audited
Mr Harder has left us with massive debt. He
should have seen out his contract and set
everything right but he did not have the courage.
I am fuming.
To use bullying as an excuse to resign, I’m glad
he is leaving.
I WAS very disappointed to discover Peter
Harder has quit his role as CEO of the Copper
I attended a meeting at Wallaroo earlier this
year only to witness just how rude and
disrespectful some of our ratepayers can be. The
meeting was led by Peter and three members of
the public, one intoxicated, did their best to ruin
the meeting for all attending.
Talking to one of Wallaroo’s businesspeople
recently, he made it plain he did not have a good
word for our mayor, our CEO or any of our
It is incredible how these people who have
every opportunity to stand for election to be
council representatives choose to stay on the
fringe and continue to be critical of everything
the council may do.
Peter, I am terribly sorry you are leaving under
these circumstances especially as we are losing
Paul Thomas as mayor at the same time.
To all those who have criticised our CEO and
our council in general you will be very lucky if
we have a CEO to fill Peter’s shoes with as much
foresight and genuine interest in propelling our
region into the future.
It is difficult for these people doing their best
to be continually criticised in most cases without
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