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$5,000 Bloody Moron

Wyndham Ratepayers have been charged $5900 for arbitration after a Councillor called another a bloody moron during a Council meeting.

Cr Robert Szatkowski took exception to being called a bloody moron by Cr Josh Gilligan during February’s meeting and was also offended by Cr Gilligan’s assertion he’d received donations from a local state MP.

Cr Szatkowski decided to apply for an official Internal Arbiter to determine if Cr Gilligan had engaged in misconduct under the Local Government Act.

There was never any dispute the comments had been made ; the Arbiter had to determine if Cr Gilligan had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, or behaved in an abusive, obscene or threatening manner.

A 10-page, $5,900 report from Arbiter Jo-Anne Mazzeo dismissed the application on the grounds that there was no malice intended, and that Cr Gilligan had made genuine attempts to apologise, which had been rebuffed.

Arbiter Mazzeo however, noted the dismissal of the complaint didn’t mean the Application should not have been made in the first place.

This case highlights a major legislative omission regarding Councillor misconduct in the Local Government Act 2020.

Councillor misconduct only applies to actions regarding Councillors and staff.

Councillors can behave in any way they want towards residents. Councillors can be rude, threatening, abusive and obscene towards residents and it does not constitute misconduct under the Local Government Act.

It also highlights how powerless residents are, to rein in Council costs.

photo credit: stock photo

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