26 September 2016

Page 5


‘Dirty laundry’ aired at council Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au BAD blood between councillors was on full show at the latest Frankston Council public meeting when councillors repeatedly clashed over the outcome of arbitration code of conduct complaints lodged against each other in recent months. Three arbitration hearings over five complaints against three councillors, involving lawyers being called in by council at ratepayers’ expense to make code of conduct rulings, have cost ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars this year (“Costly conduct for ratepayers�, The Times 5/9/16). Councillors voted to bring the hearing outcomes into the public domain at the council meeting. Mayor Cr James Dooley made complaints against Cr Darrel Taylor and Cr Suzette Tayler over comments the duo made on Facebook in June and Cr Glenn Aitken complained about comments Cr Rebekah Spelman made to the press that same month. Lawyers found no merit in three of the complaints, including Cr Aitken’s complaint about Cr Spelman and Cr Dooley complaints about internal council emails sent by Cr Darrel Taylor, but decided phrases used by Cr Taylor and Cr Suzette Tayler in Facebook comments about council matters breached council code of conduct provisions. The arbitrator ruled the pair should publicly apologise to councillors. At last Monday’s council meeting Cr Darrel Taylor and Cr Suzette Tayler were ejected from the council chamber for 30 minutes each by mayor Dooley

Arbitration hearings cost finally confirmed THE cost to ratepayers of several arbitration hearings over several code of conduct complaints between Frankston councillors in recent months has finally been revealed. At last week’s public council meeting Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden said it had cost “in the vicinity of $19,000� to pay lawyers brought in by council to adjudicate on five complaints in recent months. He estimated council staff time involved to have cost about $10,000. Councillors voted to bring the hearing outcomes and documentation into open council at the latest council meeting but no information was released by council when requested by The Times last week. as chair of the meeting because he believed comments they made at the meeting were “defamatory�. Cr Taylor said “a flurry� of complaints “within weeks� against the three councillors was motivated by the outcome of an independent panel hearing that in June found Cr Colin Hampton breached Local Government Act code of conduct behaviour clauses over the way he was “aggressive� towards two council employees at a public function at The Deck bar in Frankston late last year. “In my opinion, these code of conduct [complaints] were brought against us, or against me, in an act of retribution for bringing a code of conduct complaint against Cr Hampton,� Cr Taylor said before he was ordered to leave the meeting.

Acting council CEO Tim Frederico said in a statement that council was seeking “appropriate advice� about “items discussed� at the latest council meeting. “No further comment will be made on any of the matter raised.� The council meeting, marred by arguments between councillors and the expulsion of Cr Darrel Taylor and Cr Suzette Taylor by mayor Cr James Dooley for 30 minutes each, was brought to an end when Cr Taylor moved a notice of motion about an apology he and Cr Tayler must make publicly to council over comments made on Facebook. Cr Colin Hampton wanted councillors to vote on the exact wording that the two councillors would

Cr Dooley said that statement was “defamatory� since it effectively accused the mayor of “bias� in bringing his complaints against Cr Taylor. Cr Hampton said some councillors “cry wolf� when decisions in council go against them. “I’ve been a councillor a long time and it boils down to this – if you haven’t got the numbers, you haven’t got the numbers,� he said. “You should take that on board and try to be part of the group. This group hasn’t done that.� Cr Suzette Tayler was ordered to leave the meeting for 30 minutes by the mayor when she referred to a previously publicly unknown WorkCover claim in February brought by Cr Brian Cunial naming Cr Tayler in a “bullying� claim.

stand up at the next public council meeting to say. Cr Taylor apologised for a phrase used on Facebook that the arbitrator deemed to be in breach of council’s code of conduct but said he wanted to make it clear any worded apology he was forced to say was not his words. “Freedom of speech in Frankston is dead,� Cr Taylor said. The mayor decided to end the meeting after arguments about whether Cr Taylor’s notice of motion could be accepted. Councillors are due to meet publicly for a final time on 10 October before the 22 October council election and Cr Taylor and Tayler are expected to make a formal apology at that meeting. Neil Walker

The mayor accused Cr Tayler of “slander� when mentioning the WorkCover claim, rejected by council’s WorkCover insurer CGU, but Cr Taylor said it was not defamatory to mention it since it was listed in documents councillors had voted to publicly release. “I have been bullied in this council for the last two years,� Cr Tayler said. Cr Dooley immediately ordered her to leave the chamber. “It is disgraceful beyond belief that people should air their dirty laundry out in public in this way,� he said. “This is behaviour that would get you sacked in any workplace in Australia. Making public attacks on your work colleagues would get you sacked in any workplace in Australia

and it’s not acceptable. “We can’t be sacked. All that can be done is we can be voted out or we can have a code of conduct matter and be subject to the courts.� The arguments and councillor ejections at last week’s council meeting follow nearly two years of public squabbling between Frankston’s elected representatives. Public council meetings have been cut short, councillors have been ordered to leave meetings by the chair and, in January last year, all councillors left the chamber and could be heard shouting at each other behind closed doors. Councillors face voters for re-election on 22 October. All nine Frankston councillors have nominated to stand as candidates.

Failed ‘bullying’ claim comes to light Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au DISCORD between councillors led to a failed WorkCover claim lodged by Cr Brian Cunial in February that alleged “bullying, intimidation and ridiculing� by Cr Suzette Tayler. The claim, rejected by council’s WorkCover insurer CGU, saw eight of council’s nine councillors interviewed as witnesses with only Cr Michael O’Reilly exempted from being interviewed. The allegation by Cr Cunial emerged at last week’s public council meeting amid heated arguments between councillors over the cost of code of conduct arbitration hearings in recent months. Cr Tayler revealed the WorkCover

claim since it was listed in documents councillors voted to bring in to open council at the latest meeting. The documents have not yet been released by council. Acting council CEO Tim Frederico said council is seeking “appropriate advice� and no further comment will be provided in the interim. Both Cr Tayler and Cr Cunial said they were unable to comment due to WorkCover legislation when contacted last week. Cr Cunial, a serving Victoria Police officer, faced a WorkCover probe over a council employee claim for “anxiety and stress� in 2013. In that case the claim was approved. In a statement to a lawyer brought in to arbitrate on a complaint lodged by mayor Cr James Dooley against her

for comments made on Facebook in June, Cr Tayler said the WorkCover investigation had been stressful. Tens of thousands of ratepayers’ money has been spent on investigations into complaints by councillors against each other in the past 12 months ahead of council elections on 22 October. The majority of the complaints have been found to be without merit. Councillors have repeatedly accused each other of bullying both in public at council meetings and in private.

Claims and counter claims: Council WorkCover insurers rejected a claim by Cr Brian Cunial early this year that alleged bullying by Cr Suzette Tayler.

New generation TOP-UP hearing aids now FREE* E Eligible pensioners and veterans aare entitled to FREE hearing aaids through the government’s hearing services scheme*, or h they can pay extra (TOP-UP) for th hearing aids with additional or h more advanced features or for a m smaller size. sm As an EXCLUSIVE A SPECIAL OFFER, Hidden S Hearing is providing eligible H pensioners and veterans p

with certain TOP-UP hearing aids incorporating the latest generation technology FREE OF CHARGE until the END OF NOVEMBER. The choice is yours, either a discreet deep canal aid or a miniature receiver in canal aid. In both cases the aids will be small and discreet, and programmed to \RXU VSHFLÂżF KHDULQJ OHYHOV DQG unique personal needs. www.hiddenhearing.com.au

CALL NOW to book your FREE hearing assessment and start hearing better again.


1800 717 717

*Conditions and eligibility requirements apply under the Commonwealth Hearing Services Voucher System. Offer ends November 30, 2016.



Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.