Robe councillors have voted that Cr David Loxton should apologise to mayor Peter Riseley.
The final report about a code of conduct complaint from Mr Riseley against Cr Loxton was discussed at the January Robe council meeting.
Councillors voted to record a finding of a breach by Cr Loxton, a motion saying that elected members must:
- Act in a way that generates community trust and confidence in the council.
- Show respect for others in making comments publicly.
- Endeavour to establish and maintain a respectful relationship with all council members, regardless of differences of views and opinions of the code of conduct for elected members.
An apology will be required from Cr Loxton for any unintended offence caused to the mayor from his conduct at the June 2017 meeting, at the next appropriate council meeting.
When he gives that apology, council will not take further action.
When the recommendation that Cr Loxton apologise was raised at the January meeting, Cr Loxton said: “Mr Mayor I would like to move a formal motion to proceed to the next general item, we have already been down this road.”
Mr Riseley said: “Is there a seconder for Cr Loxton’s formal motion? Motion lapses.”
Cr Lawrence Polomka said: “I’m going to move this recommendation in its totality and I am absolutely getting sick of this. I think it is a disgrace, it certainly doesn't do this community any credit and the sooner that it is taken off the public agenda the better.”
Cr Harvey Nolan seconded the motion, adding he was directly involved in the matter, and said: “I would like to quote from the mayor’s letter of complaint.
He recited: “‘Cr David Loxton made a statement claiming I had breached protocols by making public statements in reference to the concept of the Pai Fang.
“‘These statements were made in front of the elected body, community members present and the journalist present. At no time have I ever discussed elements of the development application, DAW process and I was not present at any meeting with the DAP while this development was under assessment approval.
“‘Further to this if I have done no wrong in this case as I claim then Cr Loxton needs to apologise publicly and retract his allegation or face possible defamation proceedings.’
Cr Nolan said: “Now the mayor sought legal advice from Kelledy Jones and their report was ‘The mayor has not breached any code of conduct under the Development Act, the Local Government Act, the CDAP code or council code’.
“And I quote from the EMA report: ‘Cr Loxton in his view engaged in robust debate, did not swear or exhibit disrespectful conduct but recognised that he probably could have done better’.
“As an elected member and present at that meeting I was concerned that Cr Loxton’s attitude and questions of the mayor was overly aggressive and disrespectful for the position of mayor and I have no hesitation in seconding that full response from EMA legal.”
Cr Loxton responded that if his actions were being called into question, he felt other councillors had also not behaved appropriately.
“I don’t bother about trivial, infantile, I can’t be bothered but nevertheless it happened to me and I’m not happy. This is where the genesis of it was...”
Cr John Enright interjected: “Through the chair, this is irrelevant to the motion.”
Cr Loxton: “Well he has asked for speakers. I’ll make it simple, what do I have to apologise for?”
The mayor said: “This is not a discussion between you and I. There is a mover and a seconder, can you get on with the point of business or refrain from speaking.”
Cr Loxton: “I’ve been asked to apologise, what for?
Mr Riseley: “The EMA legal report is there.
Cr Polomka: “Breaching three clauses.”
Mr Riseley: “Through the course of this whole procedure the only person that hasn't got any respect has been myself. I have refrained from speaking about the matter in public, in front of the press, the whole duration of it and I have left it to the independent adjudicator.
“The independent adjudicator’s advice is before council, council is moving a motion and I am comfortable with that. I am comfortable also with the fact that you have requested that it be forwarded to the Ombudsman, bring it on, I look forward to that.”
Cr Polomka said: “It has been described by somebody as being, within this room, as being pedantic, pathetic and petty and I repeat that because that is absolutely where we are at. And the umpire has made a decision, we have asked for the umpire’s decision, that is the recommendation and that is why I am moving the recommendation.”