CR MEG Edwards officially resigns on Tuesday this week, but the South Gippsland Shire Councillor gave her final address at last Wednesday’s council meeting. We reprinted it in full:
I teach my sons, if somebody keeps hitting you on the arm, it doesn’t make your arm hurt less if you hit them back.  I also teach them, if it continues, to step away and make a positive contribution elsewhere.
In response to Cr Rich’s statement (it was not an apology) just now. There is nothing incorrectly perceived from being constantly screamed at, harassed and malicious gossiped about. Councillors, despite your acknowledgement today of inappropriate behaviour not including a sincere apology, I forgive you. Not forget, (I have kept notes, emails and messages) because to forget would be to negate the lessons. I am genuinely saddened & pity those whose lives seem consumed with destroying those of others. I have dealt with bad behaviour before and will in future. My strength was feared by some of my council colleagues and is why I became the main target of systemic pack bullying.
‘Silence is not neutrality, it is collusion with the perpetrators. You don’t need to say much, but you need to say something’.
This council, has in my opinion, has been absent of robust debate (which I love), it has demonstrated poor decision-making ability, no space for diversity of opinion and little respect for good governance.
I’ve resigned rather than take leave of absence as I hold no hope for this term of council to make a positive contribution for those who pay for it / ratepayers.
To be both a strong, diverse and vibrant region, we need to protect and respect our foundations and to continue the work of those before us in building a framework for the future.
Former Cr Maxine Kiel, a strong & committed community member clearly articulates what was going on in this term of council and I fully support her comments. The impact of which not only damaged the people directly concerned, but their families, neighbours, our industries and our region as a whole. Maxine, you are a survivor.
I and others voiced our concerns both verbally and in writing from the earliest days of this council as the dysfunction flowed directly on from the campaign into day 1 of this council term and didn’t cease.
Those in positions to act, who choose not to, are condoning the dysfunction and are complicit in the damage.
I am grateful for the opportunities to meet and work with some wonderful people.
I am particularly grateful for the words of support and encouragement over the last 2 years. For those who have called, sent messages or cards – thank you. You have taught me the importance first hand of ‘leaning in’ to back those who stand for us.
In closing I would like to read my statement from 2016 which is still my hope for South Gippsland beyond this term of council.
My vision for South Gippsland is one where our communities are brimming with opportunities for everybody, prosperous, sustainable fiscally and environmentally, connected both interpersonally and through utilising technology. My focus would then be on getting the basics right, especially roads and maintenance. The next priority would be creating a culture of assisting, enabling and advocating for small business, the engine-room of our economy, because by doing this we can further support the wonderful diversity of arts, cultural and community activities that increasingly enrich our lives.
Finally, a call to action, for those of you who are personally invested in and care about South Gippsland, who do not tolerate what we have endured, you are needed to rebuild our brokenness in 2020 and I will support you.
Cr Meg Edwards