By Michael Giles
Conspiracy? Don’t be ridiculous!
If there was a conspiracy to dismiss the South Gippsland Shire Council, the Sentinel-Times wasn’t aware of it and categorically denies claims, made by the departing mayor Don Hill, that we were part of it.
This newspaper’s only interest, and it’s a financial interest as well as fundamental community interest, is for this community to be happy, and for the area to thrive and prosper.
It’s good for us, it’s good for local business, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for jobs, it’s good for everyone.
But every time we turned up at the South Gippsland Shire Council there was some new problem.
First it was the issue with development at Walkerville, in which former councillor Jeremy Rich declared an interest.
Then it was the bullying allegations made by the three female members of council; Crs Kiel, Edwards and Brunt, along with staff members including one, we have been told, who was racially vilified by one of the councillors.
There was also the alleged release of confidential legal information by former councillor Andrew McEwen about a matter of critical importance, not only to South Gippsland, but also nationally, the impact of wind turbine noise on neighbours of these facilities.
And the resignations of six of the nine councillors.
Then it was the councillors meddling in important development negotiations, using the council expense account as a revenue source, conducting a highly irregular CEO recruitment process, wasting untold thousands on legal costs, burying audit reports and finally playing political, point-scoring games with the annual budget and rating strategy review.
In fact, if you wrote a book about what has gone on here at South Gippsland over the past two and a half years, no one would believe you.
OK, yes, we’ve put a spin on the news at times but that spin is all in the community’s favour. We at the Sentinel-Times will always back the community to the hilt. We’ll go into battle for the underdog and fight against the bureaucracy when it’s the only way.
That’s what we’re here for. That’s why we need newspapers. And newspapers need advertising to survive… or else what then?