DEPARTING Councillor Jim Fawcett has made a direct plea to Premier Daniel Andrews to help reveal “who is telling the truth” at South Gippsland Shire Council.
The plea was part of the Cr Fawcett’s “councillor report”, something he was unable to deliver during the Wednesday, March 27 meeting when a vote ensured the councillor reports – a staple feature of the monthly meetings – were shelved because of an alleged time restraint caused by a closed session discussion on the Bald Hills wind farm.
Neither was Cr Lorraine Brunt, who has also resigned from Council, allowed to speak. Both councillors are former mayors.
However, both reports were delivered to the media and finally included in Council minutes on Monday. Cr Fawcett wrote:
“To the Premier and Minister, I say this:
“Five Councillors have publically denounced behaviours that have resulted in a toxic workplace, harmful to the health of councillors, officers and good governance. Six councillors deny anything of the sort and have publically said so despite factual evidence to the contrary. In all of this a common refrain from the public has been ‘What the hell is going on?’
“Our Minister (for Local Government Adem Somyurek), having called for reports now has the necessary information to release those reports and state his intention regarding the future of this council. The Premier, as leader of our state, has a duty to ensure this occurs. The community have an overwhelming right to know who is telling the truth.”
It’s a view that has the backing of Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien.
“I think almost everyone is asking for the same thing. I’ve been calling on the Minister to release the report of the monitor appointed by the government to oversee the council to provide some clarity on the situation for residents and ratepayers,” he told The Mirror.
“We have all had enough of the “he said/she said” and we want the council to be able to move on, one way or another, and deliver good governance for the Shire. As I did in State Parliament last week, I again call on the Minister for Local Government to release the Monitor’s report and make a decision on the future of the council one way or another.”
Cr Lorraine Brunt wrote that it had been “a privilege and a honour indeed to serve this council and I thank the residents and ratepayers for their ongoing support for six-and-a-half years”.
“I have at times, since forwarding my resignation, been rather chuffed and overwhelmed by the support of our community stalwarts. I thank-you all for the emails, letters and phone calls that express your appreciation of my dedicated service,” she said.
Cr Brunt also acknowledged “the dedication of the staff and the CEO (Tim Tamlin) for a sterling job, in what could only be said to be difficult times”. “Today the community lose two of the best Councillors that have served the ratepayers over many years. Today is my last Council meeting I will attend as a Councillor. I am leaving proud of my achievements,” Cr Brunt said.