SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council administrators will not tolerate personal, unwarranted attacks on themselves or staff.
The elected council was sacked 12 months ago after a Commission of Inquiry found a high level of councillor conflict had impaired the council’s performance of its role, decision-making and reputation in the community.
Chair of administrators Julie Eisenbise said the panel of three administrators, appointed to act as a council until October 2021, had no conflicts of interest and no vested interest in particular properties because they don’t live in the municipality.
“We came in with unbiased interest, a personal interest of trying to better the community of South Gippsland,” the former Manningham City mayor and councillor said.
“And our personal interest in that has developed. We are helping to develop the community with both social projects and physical projects.”
Asked by the Sentinel-Times about an apparent hardening of the tone and language used by administrators at recent ordinary council meetings, Ms Eisenbise said they had noticed “people are continuing to put forward comments that are both inaccurate on the progress of the council and starting to make personal attacks which we would not be condoning”.
“We do not appreciate the unwarranted attacks on staff who have worked extraordinarily hard to put in place both the social and infrastructure projects we’re working on.
“Somehow, in our language or tone, we are trying to correct their inaccuracies.”
Ms Eisenbise called on people with criticisms to “get accurate information before disseminating it”.
Use the processes available, submit questions to council and you will get answers, she said.
Ms Eisenbise also noted that all materials received in public submission processes for planning permits, council plan and annual budget, were considered by the administrators.
“We get the full comments, not a summary,” she said.
Chief executive Kerryn Ellis said council staff were mostly local people who cared about their community and about doing a good job.
“We are receptive to feedback but it’s not helpful to have constant criticism without attempting to improve, collaborate or work together,” Ms Ellis said.
“There’s a big difference between helpful feedback to do a better job and criticism for an anti-council agenda. It’s demoralising for staff, especially considering the recent history of this council.”
Ms Ellis, who joined South Gippsland Shire Council as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, said she had met online with a large number of stakeholders “who are great at working with us, value our support and are keen to work with us collaboratively” but noted there was a small group within the community that was highly critical of council.
“I would really love people to get involved with the council in any capacity who understand local government has a role to play and want us to do a really good job,” she added.
Ms Eisenbise encouraged people interested in gaining an insight into the role of council and how it operates to apply for the community leadership program.
No early election
Community calls for an early return to an elected South Gippsland Shire Council have been rejected by local MP Danny O’Brien.
The Member for Gippsland South said it would take new legislation to change the scheduled election date of October 2021.
“Having set that timeframe only last year, I don’t see any need to change it now,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I hope we can put the dysfunction of previous years behind us and I look forward to an elected council returning next year. I continue to encourage good, community-minded people to consider standing for council next year.”