Cr Fidge defends actions, will appeal

COUNCILLOR Julian Fidge has put out the following media release in response to the councillor conduct panel findings.

COUNCILLOR Julian Fidge has put out the following media release in response to the councillor conduct panel findings:

The panel handed down its decision today after a debacle that started in March.

The panel’s procedures were corrupt and biased.

After ruling that all submissions were to be made in the ten days following the 19th of March, the panel continued to accept submissions from Crs Atkins, Joyce and McInerney up until the 27th of May.

The panel used parts of the Councillor Code of Conduct to prosecute me, but ignored the dispute resolution procedures that should have been implemented by Crs Atkins, Joyce and McInerney.

A good example of the faulty thinking of the panel is found in the middle of page 71.

I do routinely send my notices of motion to the media, because I disagree with the very short time frame council gives residents to consider our agenda.

Council publishes the notices of motion on the Friday before a Tuesday meeting, which I think is too short.

I try to publish my notices of motion the Tuesday prior, giving residents a week’s notice of my intention.

This gives residents time to consider my intentions and contact me if they feel strongly about the motion.

The panel has published this as a reason for their decision.

The panel also wrote that advocating my position with the media is a further reason for their decision.

Funny thing to be punished for in Australia.

The panel have directed that I take leave from council for two months and undertake counselling.

While I would normally accept incompetence like this as part of the job and enjoy a break, the panel’s decision is so anti-democratic I cannot let it go unchallenged.

The panel are punishing me for communicating with residents.

They say that my communications are bullying and unacceptable.

They have imposed a double standard, where it is acceptable for Crs Atkins, Joyce and McInerney and Mr Sharp and Mr Park to ignore the Code of Conduct, but I must not.

They also wrote on page 72 that they were concerned that I had “a mission to remake the council in his preferred image”, which I would have thought was an acceptable, expected and desirable in a new councillor.

But the panel clearly think council is merely a rubber stamp, with no role to play in publicly discussing or criticising policy.

I am keen to make council honest, open, transparent and consultative.

I believe in democracy, and have no intention of reducing my communication with residents or the media.

I believe council is a poor communicator and should do a better job.

I’ll probably be suspended again for writing that.

I will be writing to VCAT asking for a stay of this decision pending the outcome of an appeal, but the panel have very cleverly given me little time to do this.

And as we know, VCAT has no respect for council or councillors, so I have little hope of a fair or reasonable decision there, either.

I feel like Hamlet!

Julian Fidge

This post is part of the thread: Council Dramas – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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