Council concern grows

By Tate Papworth

There are growing concerns the Brimbank council is reverting to its old ways and a local MP says he will have no hesitation in calling for the return of administrators.

Infighting has engulfed the council – just over two years since elected councillors were returned for the first time since 2009, when government-appointed administrators were brought in.

A councillor conduct panel last week was convened at the Brimbank Community and Civic Centre after allegations of bullying and serious misconduct within the council.

In dramatic scenes, two councillors were taken to hospital by ambulance after giving submissions. They were both released later that evening.

The events of last week have led to calls for administrators to be returned.

Community members took to social media to express their concerns. Several comments said they feared the council was going down an all too familiar path.

Facebook user Robyn said: “Only wish our council had stayed in the hands of the administrators”.

Another Facebook user, Andrew, asked: “Time for administrators again?”

Western Metropolitan Region MP Bernie Finn he was concerned by the situation.

“Like many, I was really hopeful that newly elected councillors would bring about a new era of good governance,” Mr Finn said.

“It’s deeply concerning that it looks as though we’re going down an all too familiar path.

“If this council can’t govern itself, then I’ll have absolutely no hesitation in standing up in Parliament and calling for the return of administrators.”

Brimbank council was sacked in 2009, after an ombudsman’s report found it was dysfunctional and plagued by factional and political allegiances.

Democratically elected councillors returned in December, 2016, and Cr John Hedditch was elected as mayor.

Upon accepting the position, Cr Hedditch said the new councillors had spoken about the need to work together.

“We need a cohesive council,” he said at the time. “No one on this council I know wants to see the infighting of the past.”

A spokesman for Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek declined to comment on the need for a panel hearing.

The findings of the hearing will be released by the principal councillor conduct registrar within 28 days of the panel making a decision.