A meeting called in an attempt to repeal Council’s decision not to re-appoint its CEO has ended with no vote and, instead, a decision to seek guidance from the state government.
Mayor Greg Christensen requested Council convene the Special Meeting on 12 January to repeal Council’s previous decision not to re-appoint its Chief Executive Officer, Jon Gibbons.
After six hours of heated deliberations, much of it in closed session, Councillors did not vote on the motion because Mayor Christensen said he “held a reasonable suspicion that there may exist a level of declarable conflict for the majority of Councillors.”
The repeal bid came after Councillors voted four votes to three on 9 November not to renew the contract of Mr Gibbons, which expires on 18 June 2022.
In seeking to repeal the 9 November decision, Mayor Christensen said he believed Division 1 Councillor Derek Swanborough had a ‘declarable conflict of interest’ and was ‘unable to make an impartial decision’ about the re-appointment of the CEO.
“I have been made aware of confidential matters and information which has provided further insight into the relationship between the CEO and Councillor Swanborough,” he said.
Cr Swanborough, who was not allowed to be in the room during most of the closed sessions, vehemently denied the allegations of a conflict of interest.
Division 6 Cr Duncan McInnes questioned the mayor over whether he too had a conflict of interest – a claim the mayor described as a ‘serious and offensive statement’’.
Cr McInnes lamented how the special meeting went.
“This whole day the reputation of Council has dived again, and I think it’s a sad day for the community’s view of all of us around the table, how this has played out,” he said.
The meeting ended with a motion “That the Mayor prepare, with the assistance of officers as soon as reasonably practical, communication to the relevant Minister to seek guidance as per Section 150EV of the Local Government Act 2009 pertaining to the potential declarable conflicts of interest and to include discussions with Councillors prior to submission of that communication.”