Cr Jeremy Rich issued the following “apology and recognition of problem” statement at last Wednesday’s council meeting. The Sentinel-Times has included it for your interest:
“Our council’s primary objective is to endeavor to achieve the best outcomes for the local community. The conduct of councillors as we work together as a democratically elected team sets the tone of the organization in terms of how others perceive the professionalism and integrity of the South Gippsland Shire Council.
In response to the current issues: The first thing I wish to do is acknowledge that people have been offended, felt belittled and have taken communications as intimidating and disrespectful. On reflection of why some departing, current Council, and Council staff members have had reason to feel a way that was never intended, therefore there is a real probability, each and every one of us at some stage has inadvertently acted in a prejudicial way. Therefore, it is prudent for us to understand how and why my, and others’ actions may have genuinely been misinterpreted or perceived as being prejudicial.
I therefore apologise to fellow councillors and council staff if anyone perceived that any of my words or actions have caused harm as the ‘intention’ has never been to be prejudicial.
I extend this sentiment to all councillors, council staff and/or community members that may have interpreted any of my words or actions to be prejudicial in any way. My intention is to bring a professional, reason-based approach to Council so that we have clear parameters where issues are judged objectively on the basis of their merits and not subjectively on who you know or are. I believe this will bring consistency, reduces risk and bring a greater opportunity of attracting and maintaining the talented people and businesses that we rely on to support our region today and into the future.
“We can only do, what we can do”
The question of what we can do is a constant question that all elected representatives continually ask themselves. As I learn through experience it would appear to me that my answer to this ongoing question is that I would hope that we aspire and inspire others to do the “best” we can do, as that is all we can ask of anybody.
The best we can do … We should be an inspiration to our community.
I know that all of my fellow councillors have and continue to act in progressing the ideas and skills they bring to our council. We should aspire to be an inspiration to our community, and at present, we are not as it appears that our divisive words seem to be heard and often taken in unintended ways, whilst our deeds and hard work go unseen, and unrecognised. This only distracts from us being able to collaborate and do the best we can.
We need to be strong enough to stay balanced and focused. To be able to have robust debate whilst remembering we require flexibility to maintain this balance and direction by acknowledging our differences, so as to ensure that we stay on track.
Staying on track: working together to facilitate the best outcomes with real benefits for our communities.
So, I ask my fellow councilors, officers, and our community to have the strength to invite and have robust inclusive debates on issues they are passionate about whilst having the flexibility and fortitude to not perceive or take the debate as personal or attacks by individuals or groups that left unchecked can become divisive.
Cr Jeremy B Rich, Walkerville.