When acts are carried out with undue haste, sometimes there are lingering concerns that bother those who take more than a passing interest in what transpired.
For me, and I know it’s the case for some other ‘Council Watchers’, the dismissal of the elected South Gippsland Shire Council a couple of months ago, is a case in point.
So long as the ‘Show Cause’ response from the now ex-councillors is withheld and the general public are denied the opportunity to exercise their judgement with regard to the ‘defence’ case, there will be doubts about the wisdom of the decision to dismiss made by The Honourable, Adem Somyurek.
Firstly, numerous requests to release the ‘defence’ papers have been made to The Honourable Minister and he has declined those requests.
Secondly, Colin Morrison, Acting Executive Director, Local Government Victoria (responding for the Minister) has said (14th August 2019): “There are no plans for the Government to publicly make available any further correspondence relating to this matter”.
To me, it’s mind boggling that people wielding such power appear to have no comprehension of the need for Natural Justice (NJ). There are two elements to NJ that spring to mind.
The first is, “be given the opportunity to answer the allegations before a final decision is made” – in this case, the opportunity was given, but the response not considered.
The second is, “have his/her defence set out fairly in any report” – didn’t happen.
Irrespective of whether we think [the] dismissal was wise or not, the councillors are human beings and entitled to be treated fairly.
Others, such as ‘whistle-blowers’, have these rights enshrined under ‘Council Policy’ – not so it appears, if you were a Councillor.
Another concern about the ‘process’ – the Municipal Monitor, without explanation, changed his recommendation after he had submitted his report.
His initial recommendation was to “suspend” rather than “dismiss”. Why so?
Little by little your rights are whittled away, with the end game being you don’t have any!
Be careful what you wish for!
John McCombe, Leongatha.