After many years of inconvenience to the local government establishment, Council’s general manager Mark Arnold is now considering whether to refuse public access to agitator Fast Buck$, aka John Anderson.
In a June 19 letter to Mr Anderson, the GM offers him a chance to say – within four days – why he should be allowed to ask questions. It follows Mayor Simon Richardson’s expulsion of Mr Anderson from the meeting last week.
The letter to Mr Anderson alleges his ‘ongoing failure to adhere to Council’s Code of Meeting Practice and for ignoring requests by staff to behave in a safe and appropriate manner’.
Clause 4.30 of the code is cited as grounds for the action.
Mr Anderson replied to the GM by saying no evidence has been specified for the alleged breach.
‘Because you (supposedly) don’t record public access, you’ll have a bit of trouble getting your case together, won’t you. You may “require” me to do anything you like, but that doesn’t mean I’m obliged to do it’.
Mr Anderson then goes on to call the current Greens councillors the GM’s ‘trained monkeys’ and alleges Council is run by the National Party.
Mayor expels Mr Anderson
Meanwhile, Greens Mayor Simon Richardson defended his decision to lead a vote to expel Mr Anderson at the last Council meeting.
Independent Cr Basil Cameron told The Echo, the vote ‘was put very quickly without debate or explanation’.
‘In the absence of any debate or explanation to councillors from the Mayor, the move to expel John Anderson gave every appearance of being an arbitrary act of power.’
But the mayor told The Echo, ‘Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, no member of the public is currently allowed to be in a council meeting, and Mr Anderson knows this well. When Mr Anderson entered the chamber and refused to leave, we should have simply not begun the meeting and called the police for his removal, which would have resulted in a fine for breaching State Government legislated COVID-19 breaches’.
‘Instead, after his request for a vote on the matter, I held one and the majority voted for his removal and this for the meeting to commence. Since then, we have learned about the proper way to ensure a persons removal if unfortunately it is needed and we will be using this process henceforth’.
Cr Cameron added, ‘Using COVID-19 regulations without explanation against a vociferous and obvious political opponent looks like overreach.’
‘Mr Anderson’s belligerent approach generally fails to persuade councillors, and there are times when his disorderly conduct would justify expulsion; however, a transparent approach that is within power is the only way to move. ‘These are fundamental protections built into our legal system to ensure that allegation and judgement are not the same thing’.