Council enquiry underway

Council enquiry underway

An internal process is underway at the East Gippsland Shire Council in regards to comments made by Cr Dick Ellis at the statutory meeting to elect a new mayor on October 30.

The remarks by Cr Ellis upset outgoing mayor, Cr Joe Rettino, and many others in the community.

East Gippsland News and the Bairnsdale Advertiser newspapers have been inundated with letters expressing disgust at comments made by Cr Ellis.

Cr Rettino confirmed there was an internal process underway in relation to comments made by Cr Ellis.

“He used the format of the meeting to publicly humiliate me,” Cr Rettino told the News.

“That sort of behaviour in the 21st century, are you kidding me.

“It’s intimidation and bullying and where you corner someone and know they’ve got no right of reply.”

Cr Ellis used his mayoral nominee speech to take aim at his fellow councillor.

Cr Mark Reeves tried in vain to prevent Cr Ellis from continuing with his speech, pointing out to CEO, Gary Gaffney, the five-minute time rule.

Cr Rettino questioned why people would bother getting involved in council “when you have that sort of behaviour”.

“I’m stopped by people in the street who are disgusted by that sort of behaviour,” Cr Rettino said.

The family of Cr Rettino wrote a letter expressing their disgust at the “unpleasant attack on our dad”.

Other letters described the comments as “unwarranted, unfounded and unprofessional”.

Former councillor, Jane Rowe, has called on council “to remove Cr Ellis from all advocacy roles he currently holds”.

“I call on Cr Ellis to resign his public office immediately,” Ms Rowe wrote in a letter to the Bairnsdale Advertiser on November 12.

Mayor, Cr Natalie O’Connell, confirmed enquiries were being made regarding Cr Ellis’ comments.

In a statement to the News, Cr O’Connell said: “We are talking to concerned parties about comments that were made at the Statutory Meeting on October 30”.

“These discussions are based around professional conduct and having regard to the Councillor Code of Conduct.

“There is no formal investigation currently and the chief executive officer, Anthony Basford and I will be working with all parties in the best interests of gaining a resolution.

Cr O’Connell’s statement inferred reaching a resolution would “allow everyone to get on with our role of representing our residents’ Local Government interests”.

The audio and video of the statutory meeting from October 30 is available on the East Gippsland Shire’s website and YouTube channel.

Recently appointed East Gippsland Shire chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, started in his new role this week.

Attempts were made to contact Cr Ellis for comment.