MELVILLE mayor Russell Aubrey has been ordered to apologise to ratepayers’ association president Gary Crawford.
A Local Government Standards Panel decision published on August 24 found Mr Aubrey committed a minor breach of the local government act when he widely circulated an email containing information about a private legal matter involving Mr Crawford.
The email, and the legal matter, stem from a dispute between Mr Crawford and the neighbour of an investment property he owns with his wife in Bicton. It escalated when Mr Crawford discovered parts of the complex had been built shabbily and were dangerous.
With his dander up, Mr Crawford roped in all and sundry to prove his point and get remedial works, including Mr Aubrey when he became unhappy with the response from council staff. The mayor snapped, replying to an email from Mr Crawford that he’d be happy to offer himself as a witness against him in court proceedings.
The panel said that left Mr Crawford feeling embarrassed, insulted and denigrated and didn’t contributed to the discussion about the standard of the workmanship at the complex or the council’s response.
Unfortunately for the mayor, he also hit “reply all” to Mr Crawford’s email, meaning a minister, two MPs, several state department staffers, Melville councillors and a journalist received a copy. The panel looked poorly on this, describing it as unprofessional.
It noted Mr Aubrey had been trying to defend his reputation after copping a lashing from Mr Crawford and had no one in authority to complain to, but said as a councillor he should have kept his head.
After an initial finding by the panel, Mr Aubrey sent an eight-page response defending the email and calling for it to be overturned.
But the panel said it could not review its findings and told Mr Aubrey to apologise to Mr Crawford. He also has to apologise to his colleagues for not upholding the standards expected of elected members.
Ratepayers’ association committee member Lindie Mehan says Mr Crawford’s dissatisfaction with the council was understandable given he was forced to bring in the Building Commission to force staff to act.
Ms Mehan says he’s not the only one who’s faced a hard time after criticising the council, and as a result the MRRA was calling for the scalps of deputy mayor Rebecca Aubrey and councillors Patricia Phelan, Cameron Schuster, Clive Robartson and Nicole Foxton in the upcoming October elections.
by STEVE GRANT