I dropped in on the South Gippsland Shire Council meeting on Wednesday and was very disappointed with what I saw in the short time I was there.
The governance situation has deteriorated to such an extent that we no longer have nine councillors who are prepared to openly debate and vote on issues on their merits.
We have five or six councillors who dominate proceedings.
It seems that anything the other three might propose will be opposed and thereby defeated, almost on principle.
The three, not surprisingly, respond in kind but to no avail because of their inferior numbers.
The case in point came in the very first agenda item where Cr Hill attempted to move that council explore three options summarised as:-
1. Live streaming of the Open Special and Ordinary Council Meetings.
2. Implementing a question time section for councillors at each Council Meeting.
3. Implementation of annual training for Mayors/Chairs.
But the Mayor Cr Newton would have none of it, ruling that the motion was “objectionable in language, nature or intent” and throwing it out.
Well, the language was fine but “nature” and “intent” are just value judgements anyone can make to suit themselves.
The decision met with eye-rolling in the gallery, mild protest from the three aforesaid councillors and not a peep from the rest of the majority bloc.
This action seemed vindictive to me, certainly not the action of a leader who should be trying to unite all the elected talent in the room to get the best outcomes for all the shire’s ratepayers and residents.
From the way they spoke, it seems the majority of councillors think that everything is going swimmingly in our shire and want to keep things just as they are with as little scrutiny as possible.
I don’t agree with them and neither do most ratepayers from my observations and contacts.
One thing’s for certain: if the October local elections don’t result in a substantial change of personnel around the council table, we’ll have another four years of a divisive “leadership” running on less than three cylinders. And that can’t be in the best interests of South Gippsland Shire’s future.
Frank Hirst, Ranceby.