Bad blood continues

RECRIMINATIONS have continued to flow following Melville council’s fiery annual general meeting last week (“Ejections, walkouts during fiery AGM,” Herald, December 8, 2018).

Three councillors walked out during a deputation from the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association at Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting, prompting a fresh round of complaints to the local government standards panel.

And Melville mayor Russell Aubrey has criticised a resident for raising a successful motion at the fractious AGM which sought money for a newly-formed association registered at his home address.

Noting that he’d suffered “quite a backlash from naive attendees” about the meeting, Mr Aubrey said Clive Ross’s call for funding for the WA Ratepayers and Residents Association was out of order.

“Mr Ross made no declarations in relation to his interest in this item – if he had, and from the evidence provided, I would probably have ruled the motion out of order,” Mr Aubrey said.

But Mr Ross told the Herald he was under no “ethical, moral or legal” obligation to declare an interest.

“That is a specific requirement of elected members,” Mr Ross said.

“There is also no conflict of interest, when a resident has an interest in supporting residents being involved in the affairs of the local government authority.

“It may also be relevant that the rules of the association prevent payments of any kind to any individuals within the association or for any purposes which are inconsistent with the objects of the association.”

Suspended

Mr Ross fired back that Mr Aubrey should have declared an interest and left the room at the AGM when a ratepayer moved a motion requesting he be dismissed or suspended by local government minister David Templeman.

Mr Aubrey instead refused to accept the motion as it was a “negative reflection”.

He defended his running of the AGM, saying his zero tolerance approach to disrespectful behaviour had been run by the local government department and was designed to keep all attendees safe.

“Sadly, when individuals or groups of people choose to behave in a manner that is disruptive and disrespectful to others, and engage in the use of generally offensive or objectionable expression in reference to any person, they do in fact disrupt the democratic process upon which our local government system is built on,” Mr Aubrey told the Herald.

“Some members of our community left the AGM early, expressing great concern and embarrassment over the behaviour displayed by some of their fellow electors in attendance, and the city has since been contacted … to express the same sentiment.”

At Tuesday’s meeting the residents association had five questions to ask with 17 sub-clauses and a deputation, which prompted veteran councillor Patricia Phelan to tell them she wasn’t interested in hearing what they had to say and leading the walk-out.

When the meeting got back under way, the council approved yet more changes to public question time, limiting it to 30 minutes unless there was a council resolution otherwise, and restricting residents to just two questions – with no sub-clauses.

by STEVE GRANT

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