ONE of the most tumultuous days in the South Gippsland Shire Council’s 35 year history is over with the tally of resigned councillors reaching four in the past six months – two today.

Cr Jim Fawcett, who filled a vacancy on the council three months ago, brought about by the resignation of Cr Maxine Kiel, resigned on Thursday morning, February 28 and his colleague, Cr Lorraine Brunt, the immediate-past mayor followed suit in the evening.

Cr Brunt had intended to leave her resignation for a day or two after Cr Fawcett, but having advised the CEO Tim Tamlin of her intentions during the day, the Local Government Minister had to be informed, and Cr Brunt ultimately brought forward her plans.

Cr Brunt made the following statement this evening:

“Following a great deal of consideration I have decided that my position of Councillor with the South Gippsland Shire Council is no longer productive for myself or the community I serve.

“With the appointment of Jim Fawcett and Rosemary Cousin in November 2018, I thought that an opportunity existed for our Councillors to recalibrate with a positive outcome.

“Cr Fawcett’s resignation tendered today echoes the sentiments of the previous two councillors who have resigned. All three have referenced how difficult it is to work positively with this group. The difficulties that they mention I understand and have experienced and witnessed.

“I have done my best to provide leadership in difficult circumstances for councillors, my ward and the wider municipality, especially last year in my term as mayor.

“It has now become apparent that I am not being given an equal voice and the lack of good governance that exists is of great concern to me.

“I am especially concerned with the self-interest decision-making that does not have the community’s best interest at heart.

“It is with deep  regret, following six years service on council I announce my decision to resign effective from Monday, April 1, 2019.”

The two resignations indicate a crisis of confidence within the council, and certainly outside of it, prompting the Minister for Local Government The Hon Adem Somyurek MLC to call for an urgent report on the state of the council from his Municipal Monitor Peter Stephenson.

With information that another resignation was coming in the day, here’s what the Minister had to say at 4.30pm today:
“Whilst the VEC will move to fill the vacancy at South Gippsland Shire, news of a fourth resignation of a councillor in the past six months is very concerning.
“I have asked for urgent advice from the Monitor if this has the potential to negatively impact the ability of Council to provide good governance and or deliver services to its community.”
Another factor that may affect any further response from the Minister is a decision taken by council in closed session yesterday, Wednesday, February 27, to consider ending the tenure of the present CEO Tim Tamlin.
Here’s what the council decided, reportedly on a 6-3 vote of councillors:
PERSONNEL MATTER – CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER EMPLOYMENT AND
REMUNERATION COMMITTEE REPORT. 6. MAKE PUBLIC IN THE ORDINARY MEETING OF COUNCIL MINUTES OF 27 FEBRUARY 2019 THAT THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER POSITION FOR SOUTH GIPPSLAND SHIRE COUNCIL WILL BE ADVERTISED FOR THE PERIOD COMMENCING 25 JUNE 2019, IN ACCORDANCE WITH S.94(3) OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1989, ONCE COUNCIL STAFF HAVE BEEN ADVISED.