Class Code of Conduct mounting against General Manager
Following the presentation by Mr Simon Cox today, speaking on behalf of 500 members of a Face Book page called the Coila Cultural Heritage and Environment Group, questions from councillors in regards to the presentation were blocked by the Mayor when the General Manager, Catherine Dale, reminded her that councillors could not ask questions of someone "representing a group". This is not the first time that the General Manager has intervened to advise the chair that presenters speaking on behalf of a group or presenting for someone who was unable to present could not be asked questions. There are many examples of where this "rule" has been applied to both Public Access and Public Forum presenters over this term of Council and not once has a single councillor asked for clarification and evidence of such a rule. A simple phone call made by a member of the public to the Office of Local Government today has revealed that there is no such rule. The General Manager has now been asked to provide absolute reference to the rule and provide evidence of the day any such rule was adopted by Eurobodalla Council. Multiple Codes of Conduct will now be raised against the General Manager so that an independent reviewer can determine if the advice that the General Manager offers to her councillors is actually contained within adopted Council policies. Presently it appears not as can be seen in the following extract of Council's Code of Meeting Practice that applies no such conditions that prohibit questions being asked of a speaker.
This isn't the first time Council has been accused of making up its own rules outside of the Local Government Act and their own adopted policies. Take the following communication to The Beagle
"Receive NO FUTURE Code of Conduct complaints made by yourself the Beagle Weekly or any of your associated organisations/businesses." Really? The letter above is heavy handed. It is absolute. You could read between the lines and visualise the authors grinning as they wrote. In a nutshell: 'You, anyone connected to the Beagle Weekly, and or any organisations I might be a member of such as the Tuross Head Progress Association along with associated businesses under South Coast Beagle Pty Limited that includes the South Coast Travel Guide and even Eurobodalla Tourism (business name owned by South Coast Beagle Pty Ltd).' As you can imagine I wrote to Council and called them out, advising that they had overstepped their authority. They then responded:
'Sorry if it caused confusion' - one can only roll on the floor and laugh. It is clear that Council intended to bully with their initial letter but when challenged and provided with extracts of their own Code of Meeting Practice they backdown and suggested that I was confused. As Council is allowed to seek consent from the Office of Local Government to basically block anyone who who reveals the outcome of a Code of Conduct complaint the Code to be raised against the General Manager is planned to be raised by several complainants with one of them leaking the outcome to The Beagle to advise the community of the outcome. Council will then have to determine which of the complainants broke Confidentiality so that they can issue a letter telling them they stand to join the ranks of the Beagle's Hall of Fame. Drop me an email if you would like to be part of this class Code of Conduct seeking clarity around the General Manager's advice to her councillors in regards to which speakers can, and can't be asked questions. Nothing like a bit of clarification to assist public engagement. And who best to offer the clarification than an independent reviewer. Wonder which independent reviewer Council will choose? To raise a Code of Conduct against the General Manager all you have to do is write something simple like: I want to lodge a Code of Conduct against Catherine Dale, General Manager of Eurobodalla Shire Council for giving incorrect advice on August 17th 2021. I have read the article in The Beagle (August 17th 2021 - Class Code of Conduct mounting against General Manager) and request that an independent reviewer clarify if the general manager is correct that anyone representing a group can not be asked questions. I have read the Council's Code of Meeting Practice and believe the General Manager is incorrect in her advice and has denied councillors their right to question speakers. Then email that to the Mayor at email@example.com Simple. At some point you will receive a response from the investigator that will tell you if the general manager gave the correct advice or not. Then if you want you can email that to The Beagle. We promise not to reveal our source when we publish the findings. Will Council try to banish everyone who raises a Code of Conduct if only one reveals the outcome to the media? Let's see.