Mackrell: I do not stand by and let this behaviour occur

By Riverine Herald

INFIGHTING is rife within Campaspe Shire as codes of conduct fly between the councillors.

At least three complaints have been made against two councillors and the Riverine Herald believes another is imminent.

Cr Daniel Mackrell has confirmed he has filed two codes of conduct.

One against Cr Annie Vickers for a comment she made at a council meeting which he said made him feel uncomfortable and for which she publicly apologised on Tuesday night.

He would not confirm the other councillor.

Cr Leigh Wilson has also lodged a code of conduct against another councillor but would also not reveal who.

Cr Vickers’ comment was in response to Cr Mackrell’s attempting to lay Cr Vickers’s alternative motion — to spend less of the quarantined money for the Port of Echuca — on the table in November.

At the time Cr Vickers said there was ‘‘nothing to lay on the table’’.

‘‘Do you want me to lay on the table?’’ she asked Cr Mackrell who did not respond but eventually spoke in support of the motion ‘‘because we need to make this move forward’’.

In a statement provided to the Riverine Herald yesterday, Cr Mackrell said he does not ‘‘stand by or let this type of behaviour occur’’.

Cr Mackrell said he believed attitudes with any gender needed to change.

‘‘Campaspe Shire is part of White Ribbon ... one of the key points is about social change of men’s attitude towards women, I believe that all mayors and councillors in local government need to look at social change but with any gender,’’ he said.

‘‘We are all equal and should not be subject to old fashioned, out of touch and inappropriate behaviour.’’

Cr Vickers, who represents Echuca ward, made a public apology to Cr Mackrell at the ordinary meeting on Tuesday and maintained she did not mean anything untoward by her comment.

‘‘It has been brought to my attention that a comment I made at the last council meeting has been interpreted by Cr Daniel Mackrell in a way that caused him distress,’’ she said as part of a statement at the ordinary council meeting on Tuesday night.

‘‘At no time did I intend or infer any sexual connotation in my comment and I apologise if Cr Mackrell took it that way.’’

Cr John Zobec said he was disappointed complaints were playing out in the public arena.

‘‘Having to show up and feel uncomfortable when you walk in there (council) because everyone’s planning to throw a code of conduct at someone else, that’s starting to ... stifle the way council is running,’’ he said.

Cr Neil Pankhurst said he was frustrated.

‘‘It’s disappointing the amount of energy being spent on stuff that’s not actually achieving anything,’’ he said.

‘‘The nature of politics is people have different views and opinions on things but I think in my previous two terms councillors have been able to better accept people’s different opinions and work together ... we just need to reflect on why we are there, it’s about making the area and the community a better place. And as councillors we need to operate at a more strategic level.’’

Cr Leanne Pentreath said council was working through ‘‘issues of dysfunctionality’’.

‘‘We’re going to sit down and have some mediations and recommendations and hopefully we can all work together for the betterment of the council,’’ she said.

Local Government Inspectorate chief municipal inspector David Wolf said code of conduct complaints were a ‘‘matter for council and should be handled using council’s code of conduct process’’.

‘‘The Inspectorate will only become involved if a matter is considered to be serious or gross misconduct,’’ Mr Wolf said.

The codes of conduct come less than a month after Cr Weston was re-elected mayor ahead of Neil Pankhurst and Daniel Mackrell.

He was supported by Vicki Neele, John Zobec, Annie Vickers and Kris Munro.