New Mardi Gras will receive a $45,000 one-off grant from South Sydney City Council, putting the fledgling organisation in a strong position to make its first contract payment on time.

The awarding of the grant (at a meeting of Council on Wednesday of last week) took place amid a strange scene, with one councillor absenting himself from an earlier vote on the matter and later returning to second the eventually successful motion.

Democrat Cr Peter Furness initially proposed a grant for New Mardi Gras of $50,000, but this motion was defeated after Independent Cr John Bush left the chamber.

An alternative motion, that New Mardi Gras be granted $25,000, was proposed by Labor Cr Greg Shaw and got up after Mayor Tony Pooley cast his vote in favour. However, this vote was overturned just a few minutes later when Cr Bush returned to the chamber and seconded a proposal from Liberal Cr Shayne Mallard that set the grant total at $45,000.

Another Labor councillor, Christine Harcourt, accused Mallard and Bush of turning the debate into a bidding auction -“ but Bush told Council that Mallard had used very persuasive words to convince him to support the $45,000 proposal.

Bush won’t go all the way, Furness then quipped from across the council chamber.

In addition to the one-off grant, Council voted to honour its previously agreed Mardi Gras sponsorship for the 2003 season (worth $125,000) for New Mardi Gras.

The Council grant now leaves New Mardi Gras with close to $100,000 in its coffers, not far off the $150,000 needed by 18 November in order for the organisation to take over the name and assets of the old Mardi Gras.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer that the grant would help New Mardi Gras to make the contract payment on time.

We’re incredibly grateful to South Sydney Council for their generous donation, he said. It’s an investment in Mardi Gras, not just for 2003, but well beyond that.

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