Ejections, walkouts during fiery AGM

THERE were more ejections and walkouts during a fractious Melville council annual general meeting on Wednesday evening.

About 400 people attended the meeting, including contingents from the Melville Bowling Club, Alfred Cove Action Group, the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association, Swan Foreshore Protection Association and even a dozen from the Fish Army who are fighting a proposed outer harbour in Cockburn Sound.

The evening got off to a rough start for mayor Russell Aubrey and newly appointed CEO Marten Tieleman when a video presentation of the city’s achievements over the year was greeted with slow handclaps.

“If you don’t stop clapping, I’ll play it again,” Mr Aubrey threatened.

It boiled over when bowling club president Tim Smith later interjected to mock the video following another resident’s complaints about the city’s “unfettered expenditure”.

“We’ve just watched 15 minutes of it,” Mr Smith said.

A furious mayor ordered him from the meeting, despite an offer of an apology.

Mr Smith later told the Herald he felt his ejection was pre-meditated.

Mayoral challenger George Gear was next to experience Mr Aubrey’s wrath after putting forward a motion that claimed a lawns bowls strategy, which suggested the bowling club was not sustainable, was a “sham”.

Noting that he’d forbidden “negative reflections” from the meeting, Mr Aubrey exchanged barbs with Mr Gear before sending him out.

The MRRA was also on the receiving end, with former president Gary Crawford escorted out by one of the eight security guards rostered on for the meeting.

When fellow member Steve Wallace was ordered out of the meeting, Mr Aubrey even halted proceedings until he’d left the car park.

Following the forced ejections, there were a number of walk-outs, most notably councillor Steve Keppert, who on Thursday morning indicated that he would be complaining to the Local Government Standards Panel about the AGM.

In amongst the shenanigans, a motion from ACAG for the council to terminate its lease with UrbnSurf over an Alfred Cove wave park and create a bird sanctuary instead was passed, as were motions to drop plans for clubrooms at Bert Jeffrey Park, find new digs for the volunteers at the Garden City community information session (who’ll be kicked out in December), put more resources into Winnacott and Webber Reserves and help fund the new WA Ratepayers and Residents Association. The motions will come before council’s next meeting.

by STEVE GRANT

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