New councillor granted 6 months’ leave
NEW TOODYAY Shire Cr Craig Brook has been granted an official six-months’ leave of absence from attending monthly council meetings because he has taken a temporary job in Victoria.Read more
The Morangup-based councillor who was elected only four months ago had sought council permission to take part in council meetings via teleconference or video link to Victoria.
However, the shire obtained legal advice from Perth lawyers Kott Gunning that local government regulations allowed this to occur only from townsites within WA – not from outside the state.
Councillors who miss three consecutive monthly meetings without leave of absence are automatically disqualified from office.
Leave refusal could have resulted in a fresh by-election, with West Ward voters going back to the polls for the third time in a year at a further cost of about $14,500 to the shire.
Cr Brook did not attend last month’s council meeting but flew from Victoria for one afternoon to attend the August council meeting before flying back that night.
Leave of absence means Cr Brook will not be allowed to vote on council decisions unless he flies back from Victoria to be present in the chamber for the vote.
He will also not be allowed to debate council motions or ask questions while he is located anywhere outside WA.
This leaves the remaining eight councillors with a potential 4:4 voting deadlock, as occurred last month when President Brian Rayner was required to use his casting vote – a second vote given to the chair – to allow a non-conforming shed to be built in Toodyay’s Majestic Heights subdivision.
The decision to prevent Cr Brook from taking part in council meetings from Victoria was carried 6-2, with fellow new councillors Bill Manning and Ben Bell voting against.
Cr Judy Dow, seconded by Cr Paula Greenway, then moved to support CEO Stan Scott’s recommendation to prevent Cr Brook from taking part in monthly council forums electronically from Victoria.
However, that motion was lost 3-5, with only Crs Dow, Greenway and Rob Welburn voting to exclude Cr Brook from forums.
Local government regulations about teleconferencing and video links apply only to council meetings, not forums.
Deputy Shire President Therese Chitty, seconded by Cr Bell, then moved that Cr Brook be allowed to participate in forums electronically, and this was carried 5-3 with Crs Dow, Greenway and Welburn against.
A recommendation to grant Cr Brook six months’ leave of absence from council meetings was moved by Cr Bell, seconded by Cr Chitty and carried 5-3 with Crs Dow, Greenway and President Rayner against.