Politicians are used to debating, but rarely do their sparring words spill over into the public realm as much as those traded last week by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor David Gill and Nepean MP Chris Brayne.
Mr Brayne, by his own admission was a surprising winner for Labor in the 2018 state election, has accused Cr Gill of harassing him and “acting like a juvenile”.
Cr Gill says he has “every right” to follow Mr Brayne from town to town as he “meets and greets at various local shopping outlets”.
The constant presence of Cr Gill has led to Mr Brayne complaining about it to the mayor, Cr Despi O’Connor and shire CEO John baker.
“[Mr Brayne] told me I had no right to be there, but he’s invited the public and I’m a member of the public,” Cr Gill said.
“He’s accused me of stalking him and threatened to call the police.”
Mr Brayne told The News he had decided against calling the police “because I don’t want to waste their time”.
He said Cr Gill was spoiling “a great opportunity” for members of the public to speak with their local MP.
“David Gill has harassed me, argued, interrupted and sound recorded me. I don’t know why. He has a bad relationship with us and wants to annoy us.
“He’s just trying to cause problems. He’s an elected official and the recording is being made without permission.
“He’s attempting to disrupt and distract.
“He’s done this three times … within his [Red Hill] ward.
“I’m happy to sit with him and talk privately, but when he’s harassing us. It’s not acceptable and so juvenile.”
Mr Brayne said issues raised with him by members of the public included plans for expanded quarrying on Arthurs Seat, buses, school upgrades, Rosebud Hospital and the federal vaccine rollout.
Cr Gill said his tactics had worked because Mr Brayne had agreed to meet with council as a whole, as other MPs had in the past.
“As a result of my persistence Chris finally agreed last week to meet with the council, but then to my great surprise angrily ordered me away from his publicly advertised meetings and threatened to call the police over my peaceful questioning of policy decisions,” Cr Gill said.
“This lack of composure has no place in Australian politics or at any forum where elected public figures are asked to justify their position on matters of relevance to their community.
“Chris has always refused to meet with the whole council, so I like to hold him accountable [during his public meet and greets] over issues like the budgeted demolition [by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning] of the Flinders pier, state sanctioned shooting of local kangaroos, poor road conditions, lack of public bus services and the continuance of the peninsula being treated as part of metropolitan Melbourne.”