Call for councillor conduct panel

Hume City council . Photo by Damjan Janevski. 228421_01

By Oliver Lees

Hume council will apply for the formation of a councillor conduct panel to examine alleged serious misconduct by councillor Trevor Dance.

Councillors voted last Monday to make an application to the Local Government Inspectorate’s Principal Councillor Conduct Registrar, seeking the formation of the councillor conduct panel.

The application follows a report by arbiter Helen Buckingham that found Cr Dance “failed to comply” with the council’s internal arbitration process after he lodged a misconduct complaint against Cr Jack Medcraft in March.

Ms Buckingham’s report stated that Cr Dance “failed to comply” by not attending hearings related to the complaint in person.

“… The applicant [Cr Dance] repeatedly requested that hearings not be held in person due to concerns he had regarding his safety. However, no evidence was provided by the applicant in support of these requests or explaining the reasons for his concerns,” the report stated.

Last Monday, Cr Carly Moore said she was seeking the council’s “unanimous support” in the making the application for a councillor conduct panel.

Cr Moore said that the Local Government Act defined serious misconduct as the failure of a councillor to comply with the council’s internal arbitration process.

“If a councillor considers that another councillor’s actions or activities amount to misconduct or serious misconduct, they can apply to the Principal Councillor Conduct Registrar for a councillor conduct panel to be formed to make a finding in relation to these actions or activities,” Cr Moore said.

“I think it is entirely appropriate, fair and balanced, that this matter is now referred to the appropriate body.”

Cr Dance said while the arbiter’s report correctly stated that he did not attend the hearings, claims he did so without providing any supporting evidence were “totally false”.

“It is shameful that to defend myself against this motion I need to reveal personal information in a public forum tonight that council would never allow if it were one of their own employees,” Cr Dance said.

“The arbiter did have all the required evidence.

“I have a medical certificate… to defend myself and the arbiter was fully aware of that.”

Cr Dance said his doctors “have seen evidence of how the system at Hume” had “failed” him.

“Suffice to say these matters were referred to appropriate places for consideration,” he said.