Putting reputation – and boat – on the line Community: Des Maslen pulls rubbish from Throsby Creek during Clean Up Australia. He is running for mayor and as a councillor at Port Stephens.
Passionate: Des Maslen speaking at a community meeting after the Williamtown RAAF Base firefighting foam contamination scandal was made public.
TweetFacebook A man, his boat and a defamation caseDoing it the Port Stephens Council wayIT took Port Stephens Council mayoral hopeful Des Maslen decades to fulfil his dream of owning a cruiser, and a single defamation case to have him putting the cruiser up for sale after only a year.
The case, launched against him after he re-posted a copy of a post related to the council, meant the cruiser had to go because “we needed the money” to defend the costly legal argument, Mr Maslen said.
“I’ve been wanting to get a cruiser since I was a little kid and I finally got one a bit over a year ago but that’s the way things go. It was an old one but it was mine. It wasn’t great but I did some work on it. I’ll get another one some day,” he said.
Mr Maslen heads the Labor ticket in one of three Port Stephens Council wards after deciding to stand for both the mayoral positionand as a councillor. Labor is running three candidates in each ward.
“We want to be completely open about running as a Labor team. We’re not hiding behind the ‘independent’ tag. The council needs to be changed,” he said.
Mr Maslen has strongly criticised the council and mayor Bruce MacKenzie for issues including the dumping of contaminated waste at Salt Ash Pony Club. The NSW Environment Protection Authority fined the council $45,000 in October for the “unlawful transport of waste and use of land as a waste facility”.
The dumping exercise is estimated to have cost the council more than $200,000.
Mr Maslen said the council lacked transparency in its decision-making and was being “ruled, not governed”.
“I’ve seen and been part of organisations that work well. I believe the role of mayor and councillors is to be the conduit between the community and the council organisation, working in the public interest,” he said.
“I think the current council represents a minority, and by that I mean they have a very small area they tap into for the decisions they make, and that knowledge base has to be broadened.
“I see a group of people who’ve been there for a long time and what this area needs is a good fresh start.”
Mr Maslen’s focus on local government flowed, in part, from community action following exposure of the Williamtown RAAF Base firefighting foam scandal. Mr Maslen owns property within the contamination zone.
He runs an environmental mooring business after years in the area, including attending school at Bob’s Farm and living at East Seaham, Raymond Terrace and Medowie.
Mr Maslen said his view of the world was informed by becoming a single parent 22 years ago and living in a Housing Commission home while working towards a future.