The body language of South Gippsland Shire Councillor Jim Fawcett might say something about what he has found on his return to the council table. m285218

By Michael Giles

THERE are some very pressing issues before the South Gippsland Shire Council at the moment including a rating strategy review, preparations for the next budget, specifically how to fund a bevy of major projects in our key towns and trying to get the $13 million Korumburra Supermarket project back on the rails.
You’d think there would be more than enough to occupy the mind of a new mayor.
But oh dear, several much more trivial matters have been allegedly monopolising the time of Cr Don Hill.
And as he promised when he was elected mayor last month, it’s all about using his experience as a teacher to stamp his authority, not on the classroom, but on the council chamber and its naughty councillors.
Among the heady matters reportedly tackled in the past week by the mayor has been trying to make councillors sit in the chairs he instructed staff to assign to them at last Wednesday’s council meeting.
Allegedly Cr Hill wanted to be able to control the disparate elements around the council table better by breaking up the voting blocks but was reportedly overheard having an early morning argument with one of the councillors who insisted they weren’t going to comply.
Apparently, the mayor lost the battle over the chairs.
Another key matter tackled by the mayor in the past week has been insisting that ‘no smoking’ signs be placed in the courtyard outside the council chamber.
Cr Hill is quite within his rights to raise this as an OH&S matter as any staff members or councillors who smoke are supposed to do so several metres away from an outside door.
Council has previously overlooked this issue because it means pushing smokers out into the ally next to the public toilets… potentially not a good look during council meetings.
It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between Cr Hill and Cr Jim Fawcett, the council’s only regular smoker, but whether his actions were specifically targeted at Cr Fawcett we don’t know.
These matters were swirling around in the background of an otherwise uneventful council meeting last Wednesday, December 19, apparently the last time these nine councillors will sit down at an Ordinary Monthly Council Meeting.
It has been suggested to the Sentinel-Times that the new Local Government Minister, The Hon Adem Somyurek MLC, will announce the sacking of the South Gippsland Shire Council either late in January or early February and the matter will pass through the new Parliament when it sits in the first two or three weeks of February.
With the South Gippsland Shire Council not due to meet again until Wednesday, February 27, 2019 there may not be another meeting.
Only time will tell.
This could present a particular problem for the mayor, a maths teacher at the Drouin Secondary College, from where he has reportedly taken a year’s leave in 2019 to undertake the role of mayor.
Will the council be sacked? Has the bullying of staff and other councillors, the resignations, the conflicts of interest, the money wasted on legal action, the leaking of confidential information, the dysfunction and all the rest combined to sound this council’s death knell after only two years of a four-year term?