COUNCILLOR Ray Argento took a conciliatory approach as another potential conflict flashpoint loomed at last Wednesday’s South Gippsland Shire Council Special Urgent Meeting.
On the agenda was the relisting of a motion already defeated at Council’s Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday, March 28 – the co-ordination of Council and local resources to formulate a long term-plan for Leongatha.
With CEO Tim Tamlin and Councillors Lorraine Brunt (Mayor), Meg Edwards and Aaron Brown away at a rural councils meeting, the odds were better for those keen to see the motion back on the agenda – Councillors Jeremy Rich, Don Hill and Andrew McEwen.
When votes were counted there was three for and three against. Although Cr Agento voted with Cr Alyson Skinner and Maxine Kiel against the motion again being debated at Council’s next Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday, April 26, events took an unusual turn.
In the absence of Cr Brunt, Cr Argento was chairman and thus had a deciding vote on the issue.
Given the absence of so many of his other colleagues, he argued, it would be unfair not to debate the motion again in April. Councillors Rich, Hill and McEwen looked shocked, but nodded their approval.
“As a Councillor I had my vote against, but I also had to consider the bigger picture in my role as chair for the day, given the fact three councillors were unable to attend,” Cr Argento told The Mirrorafter the meeting.
“Those people didn’t have an input into the discussion. They can have more say in the April meeting and make the decision as to whether the motion should be amended, modified or whatever else.”
Cr Argento said that despite appearances of infighting amongst councillors, he was optimistic about the ability of elected representatives to deliver.
“Although we may disagree with certain aspects of what each other says, at the end of the day we’re still conducting the business at hand,” he said.
“The community can rest assured that business is being dealt with. There really has been no delays in anything that’s come to Council.”