COUNCILLOR Julian Fidge has called on the Minister for Local Government, Jeanette Powell, to appoint an investigator.
His call comes after Ms Powell gave the Rural City of Wangaratta a six week deadline to adopt a new Code of Conduct, which would be binding to all councillors.
In a media release issued on Friday, Cr Fidge said the code of conduct was not the problem, claiming the existing code had been “ignored and abused” by senior council staff and some councillors.
Cr Fidge has also released details of complaints made against him by councillors Don Joyce, Lisa McInerney and Tammy Atkins, as well as correspondence he has received from council’s director sustainability, Ray Park.
Cr Fidge said Mr Park and council’s chief executive officer, Doug Sharp, forwarded the complaints to the minister, instead of dealing with them in house, as is stated in the existing code of conduct.
The code states the CEO “will arrange for the mayor to mediate the dispute” if advice is received “from one or more councillors that they are unable to effectively perform their role because of a dispute between councillors “.
Cr Fidge said forwarding the complaints to the minister “has been deliberately designed to exaggerate the current tensions in council by sending her every complaint that comes to hand, whether or not it is appropriate or required”.
“No complaints may be elevated to the minister under our Code of Conduct, unless they appear to be an offence,” he said.
“Not one of these complaints appears to be an offence under any law, and yet they have all been sent directly to the minister as the first step of the dispute resolution.”
He said the minister should appoint an investigator to investigate the handling of the complaints.
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