Doubts about councillors’ understanding


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being asked to revoke Governance Rules they adopted last Tuesday (23 February) because some of them appeared not to understand what they were doing.

Cr Anthony Marsh decided to try to reverse the decision just hours after councillors had spent 90 minutes debating changes to the Rules.

The council meeting at the shire’s Rosebud offices finished at 11.30pm and Cr Marsh, who lives in Mount Martha, emailed his intention to revoke the decision to CEO John Baker at 1.40am Wednesday morning.

The email inboxes of his fellow councillors and shire governance manager Amanda Sapolu would have received the message at the same time.

Councillors had attended several briefings and workshops about changing the Governance Rules before participating, or listening to, Tuesday night’s long debate.

Cr Steve Holland, who must have been monitoring his email after the meeting, replied within 20 minutes to say how disappointed he was with Cr Marsh’s bid to try to overturn the council decision.

“How disappointing, especially given how much time has been spent on this matter both in the lead up to and including tonight,” Cr Holland wrote in reply at 2am.

“This will delay community consultation, after which the Governance Rules must return to council anyway? I believe this presents another opportunity for changed (sic) to be made?”

The rules adopted by council were “subject to numerous wording changes, deletions and additions, which were still being circulated just hours before the meeting,” Cr Marsh told his early morning online audience.

“It is evident that the complexity of the processes led to a situation where the Governance Rules (proposed or amended) were not given due consideration, and that a number of councillors appeared to be unclear of the status of the motion or amendments and their ability to debate or move additional amendments throughout this complex process.”

One day before the council meeting Cr Hugh Fraser circulated his colleagues with three pages of amendments to the Governance Rules.

Cr Holland said the suggested changes had been “clearly and methodically” outlined by Cr Fraser, who had “worked with several others on his amendment, as suggested by the mayor [Cr Despi O’Connor]”.

“I personally thought it was all very clear and in fact many items were considered and voted on individually. Not sure how that could get much clearer,” Cr Holland stated.

Cr Marsh was asked by The News to name which councillors he believed did not understand what they had voted for, but did not respond by deadline.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 2 March 2021


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