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Councillor outs “pack bullying”

OUTBOUND councillor Meg Edwards unleashed on some of her South Gippsland Shire Council colleagues during her final council meeting last Wednesday, saying she was the target of “systemic, pack bullying”.
She said some councillors tried to destroy the lives of others, and accused her colleagues of manipulative and appalling behaviour, and lack of respect.
She refuted Cr Jeremy Rich’s apology at the meeting for the way his past comments may have been misperceived by councillors and staff, and denied she had misperceived anything he had said.
Cr Edwards said, “If you are screamed at, if you are being harassed and yelled at, there is nothing to be misperceived out of that.”
At the start of meeting, councillors circulated a copy of a letter they all – bar Cr Edwards – had signed, admitting inappropriate behaviour had occurred.
Cr Edwards responded to that by saying, “Despite the acknowledgement of inappropriate behaviour at the start of the meeting, the letter did not include an apology.”
She said while she forgave her fellow councillors, she would not forget what they had done.
“I’ve kept the emails, the notes and the messages. I’ve kept notes because to forget would be to not learn the lessons from it,” she said.
Cr Edwards said she had never come across such behaviour in her 20 years in business banking, farming and building.
“I feel saddened and pity that lives are consumed by trying to destroy those of others,” she said.
Cr Edwards added, “My strength was feared here by some of my council colleagues which is why I became the main target of systemic, pack bullying.”
She said other councillors should have spoken out in support of her, saying, “silence is not neutrality. It is collusion with the perpetrators. You don’t need to say much but you need to say something.”
Cr Edwards said the current council had no space for diversity of opinion or respect for good governance.
Cr Alyson Skinner called a point of order, saying Cr Edwards’ statement was defamatory to councillors and/or the organisation. Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt ruled in favour and asked Cr Edwards to moderate her language.
Cr Edwards continued: “I have felt the behaviour has been manipulative and appalling”.
She said councillors had been “self serving” and told The Star some councillors had wanted to gamble with ratepayers’ money by building a school camp at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum at Korumburra, and opening another caravan park at Sandy Point.
“If someone wanted a school camp at Coal Creek, they would knock on council’s door,” she told The Star, adding running a school camp was not core council business.
“If a second caravan park is needed at Sandy Point, someone will knock on our door and we will go through the planning process. Council is not a start up fund for businesses and to compete with other private enterprise.”
At last Wednesday’s meeting, Cr Edwards said, “I resign rather than take leave of absence as I hold no hope for this term of council to be able to do anything positive for our community and our ratepayers, for those who pay for it.”
She paid tribute to former councillor Maxine Kiel who also resigned recently.
There was applause from the gallery at the end of Cr Edwards’ speech
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said, “I think instead of being aghast at what she may have said, I think we all need to reflect.”

Thanks for service: South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt (left) presented Cr Meg Edwards with flowers after her final council meeting last Wednesday. Cr Edwards resigns from council today (Tuesday).

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=26310

Posted by on Oct 30 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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