State bungle earns Cr Buckley a reprieve
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State bungle earns Cr Buckley a reprieve

The State Government has this week said no councillor codes of conduct will be recognised until after the upcoming local government elections in late October, after it completely botched the process, said Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.

“This means that Cr Ben Buckley will no longer be sacked on September 1 and can see out his full term,” Mr Bull said.

“The new council then has the right, under the Act, to amend the content of its Code of Conduct, providing an opportunity to address any areas of concern the new council may have.”

Rob Spence, chief executive of the Municipal Association of Victoria, which represents Victorian councils including East Gippsland and Wellington as members, was scathing of the Andrews Government. In a statement he said:

• Guidance material from the State Government failed to articulate a clear and unambiguous process and timelines.

• Mixed messages were provided by the Government in their 2015 Guide and March 2016 Circular advice to CEOs, causing confusion about whether the new penalty would apply to current councillors.

• It was important that the State Government learned a lesson from this bungled process.

• It’s critical and incumbent upon Government to provide clear and unambiguous guidance in relation to new laws they introduce. Laws that fail to provide a right of review do not offer appropriate checks and balances.

• Unfortunately the State has chosen to attack councils, release factually misleading information and failed to acknowledge there were multiple failures on both sides which contributed to this issue.

Mr Bull said that while the entire process was a complete debacle, he was pleased Cr Buckley, with a long record of community service, could serve out his full term.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016