Byron Shire Council has dropped a staff code-of-conduct complaint against the mayor and will pay her legal charges of $4,411. The whole incident has cost the shire’s resident ratepayers over $22,000.
The complaint was launched by a staff member after a heated phone call and taken up by the shire’s general manager Graeme Faulkner.
In what at times were awkward moments at Thursday’s meeting, councillors and various members of the gallery made speeches while the general manager sat – for the most part – silent.
Cr Tabart was the only one applauded by the gallery for his speech, which in part said, ‘It is true that the Local Govt Act allows a staff report but is a report of this nature what they had in mind? Firstly, if it is supposed to be even handed, where is any mention [in Council’s agenda] of Cr Barham’s evidence – there is none – it is exclusively opinion and documentation from her accusers.
‘It is clear to me that despite pious protestations of process and probity, this staff report is nothing but a blatant hatchet job designed to cast doubt on a decision the GM disagrees with.’
Cr Woods launched into a speech saying she wasn’t sure whether she was in favour or not but then said due process in local government needs to be taken.
‘None of us was there and none of us knows what happened. The GM has an opinion and is entitled to it…’ whereupon mumbles of discontent erupted in the public gallery.
Cr Cameron sided with Cr Morrissey over due process. ‘We need to make a judgment on a number of parties… more people are involved, which is unsatisfactory. We the councillors make the decision, and we need as much info as we can if we are to be fair.
‘I find the report is short on information. In any other organisation there would be remedies without a political forum like this. We’re here to provide procedural fairness and nobody had that go…’
After further similar statements, Fast Buck$, aka John Anderson, sparked up from the gallery and bellowed, ‘Stop copping out and wanking on!’