City should be bigger – Kennett and Proust opposed by Doyle

Calls for a Greater City of Melbourne supported by Melbourne former CEO Elizabeth Proust and Jeff Kennett yet rejected by Robert Doyle

In an article published in the Age newspaper, that skims across the issue, both Elizabeth Proust and Jeff Kennett called for Melbourne to expand

Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, desperate to hang on to his power base threatened violence by stating he would violently oppose the move.

Jeff Kennett former,Victorian Premier 1992 to 1999 who Robert Doyle as the State member for Malvern served under, would not be drawn into outlining boundaries said the City of Melbourne should be bigger.

Jeff Kennett was responsible for the reduction in the size of the City of Melbourne back in 1993 when the City lost a sizable part of its former boundaries to the North.  Mergers of other inner city coucnils took place leaving Melbourne a small shell of what it should be.

Prior to winning office Jeff Kennett opportunistically opposed moves by Labor’s Cain Government to merge Local Councils, only to embark on such a reform soon after taking office

There have been many pushes and recommendations for a Greater Melbourne which would put the City on par with cities such as London and Brisbane.

Melbourne should as a minimum take in the City of Port Philip and the former City of Prahran to the South of the Yarra with the possibility of including the City of Yarra to the North East.

Robert Doyle lives in the neigbouring City of Port Phillip and served as the Member of Malvern before losing the leadership of the State Parliamentary Liberal Party to Denis Napthine. He later resigned from State Parliament and stood for the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Office in 2008 and again in 2012.  He has served since in a lack luster sugar coated local government position milking his status as Lord Mayor of the Borough of Melbourne socializing with the likes of Boris Johnston Mayor of the Greater City of London. Doyle, who campaigned on a short lived “No Junkets” policy is desperate to cling on to the perks of office, International travel and the Lord Mayors Limousine .

Call to slash Melbourne’s ‘inefficient’ councils

 Source The Age

Melbourne must slash its local councils from 31 to just one if it is to plan services and large-scale infrastructure effectively, a former CEO of the City of Melbourne and aide to premier Jeff Kennett says.

And Australia should cut its levels of government to just two – national and regional – rather than the current three tiers.

”Our federation and the sheer number and layers of organisations that involve themselves in decision making … slows us down,” said Elizabeth Proust delivering the Planning Institute’s annual Kemsley Oration, the industry’s key annual address, late last year.

Mr Kennett on Thursday did not support Ms Proust’s call for one Melbourne council, but backed a dramatic expansion of Melbourne City Council’s boundaries.

”I think it would be a natural reform for the future,” Mr Kennett said, although he said he ”would not stipulate … how many neighbouring councils [Melbourne] should absorb”. He said council amalgamations by his government in 1994 were ”the right thing to do”, and it would be worth reviewing the numbers of councils.

But Ms Proust said the amalgamations ”did not go far enough” as too many councils were ”too small to be effective or efficient”.

Ms Proust was chief executive of the City of Melbourne from 1990 to 1995, and then secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

During the tumultuous Kennett era, councils in Victoria were slashed from 210 to 79. ”That number is still too large,” she said. ”As is the number of 31 councils which cover Melbourne” because Melbourne’s size and scale demand city-wide vision and governance.

Melbourne will grow from 4.25 million people to 6.5 million by 2050, according to the Napthine government strategy.

Jude Munro, a former CEO of the Brisbane City Council, backed Ms Proust’s call. Brisbane is the country’s largest council, covering more than 1.1 million residents and running the city’s buses, ferries and its water infrastructure.

Ms Munro headed Moreland Council and the old St Kilda Council in Melbourne in the 1990s. She said creating a greater Melbourne council made sense, but said the mayor would become ”a real competitor to the Premier of Victoria”.

Lord mayor Robert Doyle said he would be ”violently opposed” to one greater Melbourne council, with the city’s CBD model working well. ”It works for Brisbane, but I don’t think it would work for a Sydney or Melbourne,” he said. ”You lose a bit if you try and be all things to all people.’

The Planning Institute’s Victorian president, Brett Davis, also cautioned that a merger of more councils was simplistic and might not address the city’s real governance challenges.

Developer’s hidden link to Cr Doyle

Source The Age: Melissa Fyfe and Royce Millar February 14, 2013
LORD mayor Robert Doyle received tens of thousands of dollars from donors connected to a property developer with big plans for Melbourne’s skyline, yet the official donation list obscures the businessman’s links to raising money for Cr Doyle’s re-election campaign.

Robert Doyle.A Fairfax Media investigation of Team Doyle’s campaign funding has thrown doubt on a number of donors and revealed apparent breaches of the Local Government Act, with the official donation list containing misleading information, wrong names, wrong addresses and the non-disclosure of the members of a trust.
One of Victoria’s most experienced local government lawyers, Terry Bramham, described the Team Doyle official list, or return, as ”curious”.
”You have a number of individuals from far-flung places with no clear connection to the City of Melbourne making substantial donations,” said Mr Bramham, of Macquarie Lawyers. ”Why would they be doing that?”
Mr Bramham said the questions raised by Fairfax Media were sufficient to justify an official investigation into city council campaign funding last year.
The most notable transparency problem is the connection between Chinese-born Jeff Xu – a developer and entrepreneur who has pushed for the fast-tracking of high-density development in Melbourne – and donors named Yif Yufu and Amy Meng Li.
Neither Mr Xu nor the companies he is publicly associated with are listed on the official return. The five Team Doyle councillors would therefore be unlikely to declare a conflict of interest when voting on applications from his many city business interests.
But Fairfax Media has found that although Yif Yufu appears to be a person, the actual donor of $15,000 to Cr Doyle was Australian Yifu Investment Development Pty Ltd, which Mr Xu part-owns through his company J. Xu Nominees.
Amy Meng Li, who lives in Maribyrnong and confirmed to Fairfax Media that she has no other business interests in the city, gave $8000 to Cr Doyle. She is an accountant for Dahu Nominees, of which Mr Xu is sole director and only shareholder. Ms Li said her donation to Cr Doyle was an individual decision, not on behalf of Dahu. She refused to comment further.
Last year Fairfax Media revealed a property developer’s claims that Cr Doyle’s No.1 council candidate, Kevin Louey, had asked developers for tens of thousands of dollars in donations in return for access to Town Hall. In the wake of these articles, Mr Xu denied being asked to donate to the Doyle campaign or having promised financial support. The cash-for-access claims are being investigated by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.
Mr Xu on Wednesday refused to comment when asked if he had donated to city council candidates.
The Fairfax Media investigation also found:
?Thousands of dollars were donated by people living in modest flats in Clayton South, Chadstone, Box Hill and Maribyrnong with no obvious link to the City of Melbourne.
?Donations to Team Doyle from the property industry were more than half – $200,000 – of Cr Doyle’s $380,000 declared re-election war chest.
?Despite legal requirements to name the trustees of any donating trust, Team Doyle failed to name the trustees of the Sydney-based Heng Xing Family Trust, which donated $20,000. Council candidates who received this money could be penalised as much as $40,000.
?Team Doyle member Kevin Louey’s return listed the Guangdong Association of Australia as donating $1000. But the Guangdong Association of Australia Inc has confirmed it did not donate. The Guangdong Overseas Friendship Association of Australia’s secretary, Tony (Yuan Hui) Du, said a member, a woman friendly with Mr Louey, had wanted to hide her donation from her husband. ”She asked if she could use the name of the association,” said Mr Du.
?Donor David Ting, who gave $2500 to Team Doyle, does not live at the Box Hill address provided on the return.
?Accountant Jian (Ken) Huang and his wife, Samantha To, are listed as contributing $5000. But Mr Huang said he believed their donation was actually $10,000.
Mr Xu is building a Sheraton hotel in Little Collins Street and the Emerald apartments in South Melbourne. He owns the Rainbow entertainment complex in Bourke Street and has an interest in a string of central city restaurants.
In its previous term, the Doyle council supported the 32-level Sheraton project and an extension of Mr Xu’s karaoke club’s licensing hours from 1 am to 4am. The extension was granted despite a ban on new liquor licences in the city beyond 1am.
Confidential minutes from an internal licensing committee reveals that throughout 2012 Cr Louey attended meetings – not usually attended by councillors – at which Mr Xu’s licensing application was considered.
In December Fairfax Media reported that the city council could be denied a say on key city building projects, with a majority of councillors conflicted by donations from active developers.
Cr Doyle spoke to Fairfax Media on Wednesday on several occasions, criticising decisions by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, but did not return numerous calls for this story.
Cr Louey told Fairfax Media that the name Yif Yufu did not ”ring a bell”, nor did he know David Ting. Cr Louey then ended the interview. Team Doyle councillor Arron Wood said he did not know any of the donors. Team Doyle councillors Beverley Pinder and Susan Riley did not return calls.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle exonerated from allegation of harrassment – Councillor Conduct Panel

The City of Melbourne tabled the report of the Councillor Conduct Panel in response to a complaint lodge by Councillor Jackie Watts in 2011
The report was publishedearlier today and attached to the City of Melbourne’s Minutes
The order of the Panel is that the Application for a Councillor Conduct Panel made by Councillor Jackie Watts on or about 6 February 2013 in respect of Councillor Robert Doyle be dismissed pursuant to section 81J(1)(e) of the Local Government Act 1989.

Dated: 21 August 2013
Full Text of report. (Format altered in data conversion).
In the matter of the Local Government Act 1989 and In the matter of an application for a Councillor Conduct Panel, City of Melbourne
1. Councillor Jackie Watts lodged an application with the CCP Registrar, City of Melbourne, on or about 6 February 2013 asserting that Councillor Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor, was in breach of the City’s Councillor Code of Conduct (“the Code”).
2. Cr Watts’ application was supported by two documents identified respectively as “Statement 1” and “Statement 2”.
3. On 7 March 2012, following a Directions Hearing held by the Panel on 6 March 2012, which both parties attended, Directions were issued which required Cr.
Watts to identify the provisions of the Code that were said to have been breached by Cr. Doyle; to set out the matters that were said to constitute the breaches; and to provide relevant documentary evidence. The Directions required Cr. Doyle to respond and to provide any supporting documentary evidence.
4. In response, on 17 March 2013, Cr. Watts submitted a document headed: “Statement 3 —As requested at Directions Hearing March 6, 2013”. In that document he provisions of the Code relied upon were stated as:
  • The Councillor Conduct Principles; Primary Principle, Clause 2.1; General Principles, Clause 2.1; • Misuse of Position, Clause 3.1;
  • Values and Behaviours, Clauses 4.1 and 4.4;
  • Protocols Supporting Decision-Making Structures and City Representation Role, Clause 5.
1 Paragraph 72 of these Reasons has been amended to correct an error with respect to the application of the Meeting Procedures Code.
5. Cr. Watts did riot relate each of the above provisions of the Code to all of the specific allegations made in her Application, but did so in respect of some. That has left the Panel the task of attempting to elucidate the precise breach alleged, in some cases. However, the Panel understands Cr. Watts’ argument, in essence, to be that the “pattern of behaviours over time (August 22011 — November 2012)” of Cr. Doyle, demonstrated in the allegations made against him, substantiates the several breaches of the Code alleged and noted above.
6. With regard to the alleged “pattern of behaviours over time” Cr. Watts states, under the heading “Complaint Context” that:
From the outset, a pattern of behaviour emerged in which RD acted towards JW in a manner, which was disrespec tf ul, and de-stabilising. JW experienced unnecessary anxiety and exclusion, which impeded her work. –
7. A hearing was held before the Panel on 16 May 2013 at which both parties made oral submissions.
8. Subsequent to the hearing, further documents and submissions were provided to the Panel. The provision of further material was not in compliance with the Directions of the Panel. At the hearing, Cr. Watts’ expressed her intention of providing such material. This was quite properly objected to by Cr. Doyle, in view of the Directions previously given and the need to bring the matter to finality. However, the Panel has determined to receive further material and to take it into account in the interests of achieving completeness in the determination of the’issues raised by the Application.
The impugned conduct
9. Although, as noted, Cr. Watts’ application is in respect of the pattern of behaviour alleged to have been engaged in by Cr. Doyle, it will be necessary for the Panel to examine and make findings in respect of each allegation.
10. Before discussing the allegations, and the response of Cr. Doyle, we set out each of the matters relied upon by Cr. Watts (retaining the numbering used in “Statement 3”:
4.1      Refusal to assign Portfolio responsibility, to IW during her entire first term on Council (August-2011 — October 2012);
4.2      The Personal Explanation/Statement Episode (September — October 2011);
4.3      The Bullying and Harassment episode (March — April 2012);
4.4      RD Warning Councillor (April 2012);
4:5      Incident at Special Confidential Meeting (September 4 2012);
4.6      RD Refusal to participate in mediation and ‘conditional’ mediation (October 2012 — February 2013);
4.7      Sustained pattern of behavior including exclusion, disrespect, n, (sic) lack of Recognition at Meetings during JW entire first term (August 2011 — October 2012);
4.8      Attempt to discredit TW’s complaint at Directions Hearing (March 6, 2013).
Portfolio responsibility
11. Cr. Watts says that she repeatedly put forward requests that some form of Portfolio responsibility be allocated to her. It was her expectation when joining the Council that she would be allocated portfolio responsibilities, possibly as Deputy Chair, until she became familiar with Council operations and protocols.
She argued that, without portfolio responsibilities, “[c]ouncillors are denied access, to information, access to officers, and suffer from a lack of exposure to the electorate…[w]ithout a Portfolio a Councillor is effectively ‘disenfranchised’.
12. Cr. Watts set out a number occasions or opportunities that she believed would allow her to attain Portfolio responsibilities, butt despite the existence of such opportunities, no allocation was made to her. It is unnecessary to set them out here.
13. Cr. Doyle’s response to this ground of application was that the allocation of Portfolio responsibilities was a matter reposed in him by a prior decision of the Council.
14. Subsequent to the hearing Cr. Watts, in a document dated 21 May 2013 provided to the Panel, asserted that the previous decision of Council referred to by Cr. Doyle “…would not have granted to any Lord Mayor the right to make decisions based upon a whim or a personal agenda without objective criteria”. She argued that a Councillor who sought, but was denied, portfolio responsibilities over an extended period should “be provided with the criteria upon which decisions were made”, noting that she was not provided with any such explanation.
Personal Explanation/Statement
15. This ground of complaint concerns the alleged conduct of Cr. Doyle in respect of a Personal Explanation given by Cr. Ken Ong at a Council meeting held on 13 September 2011. That Personal Explanation was said to be a response to a motion put by Cr. Watts at the Council meeting on 6 September 2011which called upon the Minister for Local Government to undertake a review of the -City of Melbourne Act, which motion was lost.
16. Cr. Watts complains that she was given no prior notice of the motion : She says that the right to make a Personal Explanation had been availed of only once in the previous decade. She says that Councillor Ong had “struggled with meeting ‘ protocol in the past” and was likely to have sought advice before adopting what she referred to as “this unusual procedural device”.
17. It was of concern to Cr. Watts that the Personal Explanation given had misinterpreted the substance of her motion of 6 September 2011, had implied racist intent, was critical of those who spoke in support of her motion, and of those in the comMunity who supported the motion. She believed that the allegations or innuendo contained in the Personal Explanation had the potential to damage her reputation.
18. When she spoke with the Deputy Lord Mayor (Cr. Riley), Cr. Riley denied that either she or Cr. Doyle had prior knowledge of the Personal Explanation.
19. Subsequently, Cr. Watts says she learned that Cr. Ong had been assisted by Cr. Doyle with his Personal Explanation and learned this, it appears, from constituents who had attended a meeting of the Coalition of Residents and Business Associations which had been addressed by Cr. Ong. Cr. Watts believed that officers of the Council had attended the meeting, and approached Cr. Ong for notes taken by Council officers at the meeting. Cr. Ong refused to provide such notes and, at a Councillor-only meeting, Cr. Doyle refused to support her request for such notes.
20. Subsequently, on 4 October 2011, Cr. Watts presented her own Personal Explanation. During the course of which she alleges that Cr. Doyle blatantly ignored her and rudely conferred with officers. Further, in that meeting Cr. Watts also submitted an Urgent Motion to enable her Personal Explanation to be recorded in the Minutes, noting that Cr. Ong’s Personal Explanation had been recorded in the minutes. Cr. Watts claims that, in respect of that motion, Cr. Doyle: “used his majority on Council to defeat [the motion] and deny her natural justice”.
21. The Notes of the meeting held between Cr. Ong and COREA representatives on 14 October 2011 were provided to the Panel by Cr. Watts. In her document of 21 May 2013 (“Evidence and Clarification post Hearing, 16 May 2013”) Cr Watts states that “[t]hese notes were circulated amongst CoRBA members at the time.”
22. In response to Cr. Watts’ claim, Cr. Doyle submitted to the Panel a statement dated 24 May 2013 signed by Cr. Ong. In that statement Cr. Ong says that thern Personal Statement he presented was prepared by him “and was not done with any assistance from the Lord Mayor or any other Councillors”. ‘He says further that he had consulted with the Council’s Manager of Governance as to his ability to make such a statement, and denies having colluded with the Lord Mayor or other Councillors as to the matter. Although he had mentioned to Cr. Doyle his desire to make a statement relating to comments made by CORBA in their submission to the Future Melbourne Committee meeting, the contents of his personal statement were not discussed with him.
23. At the hearing before the Panel, Cr. Doyle denied that he had had any involvement with the preparation or content of Cr. Ong’s statement.
24. The Panel notes that there is an apparent conflict between the Notes of the meeting between CORBA and Cr. Ong on 14 October 2011 and Cr. Ong’s statement dated 24 May 2013. In the Notes, it is stated that: “Cr Ong advised that it was only on the weekend before FMC2 that he drafted a response statement and discussed it with the Lord Mayor”.
25. Subsequent to the hearing the Panel was provided With a copy of the Melbourne City Council Conduct of Meetings Local Law 2010 and the Meetings Procedure Code. The latter makes provision in cl. 3.17(r) for Personal Explanations. At sub-para.(i)(B) it is provided that a copy of the Personal Explanation is to be provided to all Councillors at the meeting where the personal explanation is to be made and read out word for word. It is to be observed that there is-no requirement for prior notice of the personal explanation to be given to Councillors. The Personal Explanation is required to be appended to the minutes of the meeting at which it is made “without the need for further commentary in the minutes”.
26. Cr. Watts complains that Cr. Doyle was instrumental in securing a vote of Councillors which had the consequence that her personal explanation was not appended to the Minutes. Cr. Doyle’s response at the hearing before the Panel was that he denied holding any “locked in” majority of Councillors.
Alleged bullying and harassment, March-April 2012
27. This allegation arises out of complaints made by Council officers to the Chief Executive Officer as to the conduct of Cr. Watts in approaching and questioning officers of the Council. Cr_ Watts’ concern, however, as stated in her “Statement 3” is with “…the damaging manner in which [Cr. Doyle] chose to progress or ‘resolve’ the matters raised by the CEO” and the pattern of behavior that she says was subsequently engaged in by Cr. Doyle being, she says, to attack her “in a manner designed to de-stabilise, intimidate and suppress”.
28. In summary, Cr. Watts relies upon the following matters:
  • On 17 April 2012 Cr. Doyle invited Cr. Watts to his office ostensibly to discuss a motion pertaining to the Library. Instead, once in the Lord Mayor’s office, she was informed by Cr. Doyle that he had received a complaint from the CEO about her detailed questioning of officers. Cr. Doyle’s Chief of Staff was also present.
  • At the meeting in the Lord Mayor’s office, Cr. Doyle told Cr. Watts that the complaints were serious and could possibly result in her dismissal from Council, but gave her no further information about the complaint. Cr. Watts says that Cr. Doyle told her that she should consider obtaining independent legal advice. Cr. Watts also states that, had she realized the purpose of the meeting, she would have brought a witness or note-taker with her. She inferred that the purpose of the meeting was to alarm or intimidate her.
  • When she became aware of the true nature of the complaints she considered that they were not as Cr. Doyle had originally described, and that in fact “…officers appeared to be genuinely concerned that [Cr. Watts] should be made aware so that she would not be inadvertently compromised” and amounted to constructive feedback from officers.
  • In light of her appreciation of the true nature of the officers’ concerns, Cr. Watts says that she sought from Cr. Doyle “clarification on the way forward” noting the absence of an internal dispute resolution process under the City of Melbourne Councillor Code of Conduct.
  • Cr. Watts says that thereafter Cr. Doyle “persisted in taking a controlling position in the matter, attempting to frame the matter in terms of [Cr. Watts] being incompetent” with no understanding of her role on the Council and suggesting that the officers complaints ought to be referred to a Councillor Conduct Panel.
  • Cr. Watts asserts that Cr. Doyle later withdrew these “threats” in a letter sent to her, but that the tone of the letter was “… extremely disrespectful and insulting alleging that [Cr. Watts’] behavior had somehow changed”.
  • Cr. Watts then complains that, despite suggesting that she obtain independent legal advice, Cr. Doyle refused to support her in proposing a motion at a Councillor-only meeting for reimbursement, and she decided not to proceed with the motion.
29. In her oral submissions at the hearing, Cr. Watts put that Cr. Doyle was opportunistic in the manner that the complaints were handled and in an attempt to destabilize her and leave her without resources. She also suggested that the complaint against her was not pursued legally because it had no substance, and denied that she had been provided with all the information, and had been “spooked” by the meeting she had with Cr. Doyle and his Chief of Staff. The way in which Cr. Doyle chose to progress the matter was inflammatory and distressing. Email exthanges with Cr. Doyle, she said, painted her as a vexatious person.
30. Cr. Doyle, in his written submissions dated 3 April 2013, asserts that Cr. Watts conducted herself towards Council officers in a way which gave rise to complaints to the Chief Executive Officer, which were referred by the CEO to the Lord Mayor then to Cr. Watts. Cr. Doyle notes that Cr. Watts had been provided with the documentation which was the foundation of the complaints by officers, and considers that Cr. Watts’ characterization of the complaints as no more than “constructive feedback from officers” as demonstrating a lack of insight and lack of understanding as to the serious issues raised in that complaint process. Cr. Doyle refers also to legal advice obtained from Maddocks, Solicitors, which was confirmatory of inappropriate conduct on the part of Cr. Watts.
31. Further, Cr. Doyle argues that Cr. Watts has failed to make out her allegations as to Cr. Doyle’s conduct in that she has failed to provide elaboration or any specifics. In particular he noted that she referred to “a series of hostile emails” without producing them. Cr. Doyle asserts that he has at all times sought to deal with Cr. Watts with respect and patience.
32. In his oral submissions to the hearing, Cr. Doyle did not concede that no case had been found in respect of the conduct by Cr. Watts complained of by Council officers. He suggested that what he had done in respect of the officers’ complaints was consistent with the advice from Maddocks, and that it was necessary for him to respond to Cr. Watts because the CEO had raised the matter with him Further, Cr. Doyle denied that it had been suggested that Cr. Watts obtain her own legal advice, but rather that she had been offered training through Maddocks.
33. The Panel notes the correspondence between the Manager, Governance and the Chief Executive Officer and the Lord Mayor with respect to the complaints by officers against Cr. Watts. The complaints were referred by the Manager Governance Services to the CEO, who suggested that the matter be referred to the Lord Mayor. What appears to be in-house legal advice was sought by and provided to the CEO by Mr Kim Wood. Numerous emails sent by or on behalf of Cr Watts to Council officers were, it appears, provided to the CEO and senior management of the Council.
34. The Panel has also been provided with a copy of a Memorandum from the CEO, Dr. Alexander, dated 26 March 2012 addressed to the Lord Mayor attaching a note she received from the Manager Governance Services dated 23 March 2012, and attaching various documents emanating from Cr. Watts to Council officers.
Dr. Alexander concluded her Memorandum by stating: “I share Keith’s concerns about Cr. Watts’ behavior in relation to the two matters.”
35. Cr. Watts provided the Panel with copies of correspondence between herself and Cr. Doyle on the question of the conduct of Cr. Doyle towards her in respect of the allegations that she had acted inappropriately towards Council officers. These are the following:
Watts to Doyle, 16 April 2012. Cr Watts writes noting her agreement that a meeting with the CEO would be useful, in the hope that it will bring clarity and a satisfactory resolution to the situation. She goes on to say:
I am pleased that we have both recognized that the CoM Councillor Code of Conduct is deficient in that it makes no provision for an ‘internal dispute resolution process’ and obviously, this omission should be rectified at the first opportunity.

I am also pleased that you agree that it is reasonable of me to request an assurance that the CoM will fund, should this prove to be necessary, my seeking independent legal advice on the matters raised.

So My objective for the meeting is, if possible [sic], clarify the following:

1. What obligations do CoM officers have to provide Councillors with Council-held information on matters of interest to constituents?
 2. What specific processes are available to a Councillor (without portfolio) to request detailed information from CoM officers?
3. What specific actions are available to Councillors when not satisfied with the scope, quality and accuracy of the information provided by CoM staff?
4. What is the specific legislative, regulatory or policy basis of the CoM’s position on the questions posed above?
 Doyle to Watts, 16 April 2012.
Cr. Doyle writes that he is not sure that Cr. Watts has grasped the immediate seriousness of the situation and says:
…this is not an opportunity for you to preemptively pose yet more questions to frame your preferred outcomes of the meeting. My invitation to you is to take part in an agreed informal meeting to seek agreement on next steps.. .1 am not the arbiter or mediator in this situation. I do not have a particular view of the allegations, contrary to your email. Therefore another Councillor, or a legal or governance representative for your or the CEO is not appropriate at this meeting.
My role is to determine whether your behavior could be seen to have an improper effect on City of Melbourne officers. It is the effect of your behavior on them that is at issue: not your view of the behavior/questioning/tone of your conduct.
It is my intention to proceed with the meeting as planned….
Watts to Doyle — 16 April 2012. Cr. Watts writes:
I gather from your email. [of the same date] that there is no (or never was no) intention on your part to seek a constructive resolution of the matter at the proposed meeting.
I find it regrettable that you perceive that I”pre-emptively pose yet more questions to frame your preferred outcomes of the meeting”.
What I was seeking from this meeting was clarification and establishing a ‘way forward’.
Your response in seeking ‘an agreement to next steps’, seems to suggest that you have indeed pre-judged me and pre-determined the outcome of our meeting.
As discussed, I like any reasonable and prudent person, will not agree to any ‘next steps’ without first seeking independent legal advice…
I am puzzled as to the reason that you propose meeting at all if no genuinely constructive outcome is being sought.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of goodwill and co-operation, I am prepared to proceed with a meeting; but, given the tone of your email, I must insist that an observer of my choice be present.
Doyle to Watts —18 April 2012. Cr. Doyle states that he is acting in good faith on a complaint made by the CEO; that he is endeavouring to ensure that good practices and procedures protect Councillors from risk of breaching the Act and that: “My role is to be a facilitator not mediator or arbiter in a meeting between yourself and the CEO… [pjlease do not engage with further questions, assumptions or assertions about the meeting or my role and motives. I have made all these matters clear”. A meeting date of 19 April 2012 was proposed.
• Email — Doyle to Watts 19 April 2012 which states:
…it is now three weeks since I first raised the issue of the CEO’s letter to me regarding concerns about your behavior.
 On 30 March I offered governance advice and training regarding the Local Government Act. My note to you specifically limits the offer of independent legal advice from Maddocks to this advice and training.
I must now insist that you either commit to a meeting with the CEO and myself as facilitator without third parties in an attempt to resolve the concerns raised in the CEO’s letter; or that you indicate that you do not wish such a meeting to take place.
Further delays are unacceptable.
It is a normal process for the CEO and Councillors to meet in order to resolve problems. It is not a situation where legal advice is required. If you believe it is necessary then it’s a matter for you to fund.
I need your response to be unequivocal and either accept the proposed meeting or decline it.
 • Email — Watts to Doyle 20 April 2012 in which she denies that she objects to a meeting taking place, but rather welcomes the opportunity, but states: “…as I have previously stated: given the seriousness of the allegations, your notes and emailed comments to date,”I am not prepared to meet with you or the CEO on this matter at this time on the conditions that you have imposed, that is to say, without the benefit of legal advice and the presence of an independent witness.”
36. Some resolution of the matter appears to have been reached by 9 May 2012 for on that date Cr. Doyle wrote to Cr. Watts stating that he had investigated a range of resolutions of the complaint and that: “I am loathe at this time to proceed to the Councillor Conduct Panel process, or the alternative of requesting the Chief Municipal Inspector to investigate. Such public processes can do no good to the reputation of anyone involved, especially yourself” The letter went on, inter alia, to assert that, contrary to the views of Cr. Watts, the Code of Conduct was adequate; that not having legal advice and representation did not prevents a meeting of CEO and Councillor; and refuting her suggestion that she had been offered legal representation rather than training in governance through the legal firm of Maddocks.
37. Cr. Doyle’s letter concluded:
Given that yOur behaviours have changed, I plan to close the matter. If however, there is a resumption of behavior resulting in a further complaint to me, I will not hesitate to act and move these matters to formal, external investigation.
Cr. Doyle Warning Councillor
38. Cr. Watts says that she informed Councillors by email about the circumstances described above under the heading Alleged bullying and harassment, March-April 2012. The gravamen of her complaint about Cr. Doyle is that he warned “at least one fellow Councillor Brian Shanahan in a threatening manner that he would be wise to distance himself from [Cr. Watts1”. This ground of complaint also asserts 10 that Cr. Doyle had spoken to an (unnamed, but presumed by the Panel to be Mr Peter Clarke) former Councillor and in which conversation he described Cr. Watts as “difficult”, suggesting that the Council had functioned better before Cr. Watts joined the Council.
39. Subsequent to the hearing, Cr. Watts made contact with Cr. Shanahan, and submitted a chain of email correspondence that she had with him. In doing so, Cr. Watts claimed not to have understood the requirement of the Panel that all evidence to be relied upon be available at the hearing, despite clear Directions having been given by the Panel.
40. At the hearing, Cr. Doyle objected to Cr. Watts being provided with further opportunities to develop her case, and in the Panel’s view, that objection was well-founded having regard to the clear directions of the Panel and the opportunities that were available to Cr. Watts to have all evidence ready and available for the hearing. Nevertheless the Panel has been prepared to receive the material Cr. Watts provided.
41. In his email to Cr. Watts dated 27 May 2013 Cr Shanahan stated:
I would first like to place on record my astonishment that the Councillor Conduct Panel is not able to interview relevant people such as myself The Lord Mayor did speak to me in this context concerning Councillor Watts.
He was emphatic that I should not support her and in fact should distance myselffi-om her. I did not take his comments as casual “in passing remarks”.
Councillor Watts has advised me previously of the conflict [and misunderstanding] between her and the Lord Mayor. The clear intent of the Lord Mayor’s conversation was for me to dista ‘ nce myself on all matters concerning Councillor Watts and supporting her on any issue that was against the majority position of Council [almost inevitably the Lord Mayor’s position as well] and would be seen very unfavourably in his eyes. I might add that I did not take this rather emphatic advice.
42. Cr. Shanahan concluded by stating that he was available to provide further comment, answer questions or appear before the Panel if requested. The Panel has not considered it necessary to do so.
43. What Cr. Watts, in her email to Cr. Shanahan, asked him to respond to was the following:
I had submitted 14 pages of material detailing incidents where Doyle showed disrespect towards me (there isn’t a clause in CCcode specifically on ‘bullying) : In my statement I referred to Doyle showing disrespect towards me by warning you against me.
Doyle did not deny speaking to you but said that his recollection was it was merely [sic] casual remark about this matter which in his view had the potential to discredit council.
44: The Panel notes that Cr. Shanahan said nothing in support of Cr. Watts’ contention, in her memorandum to the Panel dated 21 May 2013, that “Cr. Shanahan was disturbed enough by those inappropriate comments to make me aware of the depth of Cr. Doyle’s hostile attitude towards me and towards this entire matter which was at that point officially unresolved.”
45. At the hearing, Cr. Doyle’s denied that he had had other than informal discussions with Cr. Shanahan. He said that he had told Cr. Shanahan that the issue of the conduct of Cr. Watts toward officers in her role as a Councillor was a very difficult matter and that she should not get involved whilst Cr. Doyle attempted to sort it out.
46. Cr. Doyle responded to Cr. Shanahan’s email in his Response to Cr. Watts dated 30 May 2013. The response was as follows:
 a. The conversation between the LM and Cr Shanahan was “casual” in the sense of informal and impromptu, but not offhand.
b. My recollection of that conversation is that I did caution Cr. Shanahan not to get involved in the process of a formal complaint by the CEO against Cr. Waits, which I was dealing with under 6.1 of the Code of Conduct.
c. Cr. Shanahan ‘s statement studiously avoids repeating Cr. Watts ‘ allegation of “threatening” behavior by me. Instead he chooses to infer my motives. His inference is not supported by evidence and is wrong.
Incident at ,SPecial Confidential Meeting, 4 September 2012
47. At a Special Confidential Meeting of Council held on 4 September 2012 the business before the meeting concerned the appointment of members of the Board of CityWide. Cr. Watts moved a motion that that the item be deferred to a date subsequent to the forthcoming Council election. The motion was put and lost.
The substantive motion was then put, debated, and adopted. Cr. Watts spoke against of the motion; Cr. Doyle spoke in favour.
48. In closing the debate, Cr. Doyle denied that the process of decision-making in respect of appointment of Board members had been “unseemly” and referred to what he described at the self-serving self-indulgence of such person, he presumed to be a Councillor, who leaked confidential information to the press concerning the processes of nomination of Board members of City Wide.
49. At certain points during Cr. Doyle’s closing address, Cr. Watts interrupted him.
She observed that Cr. Doyle appeared to be speaking directly to her when referring to “leaks” by Councillors. She objected to the inappropriateness of his language and to what she described as his “tirade” and the “provocative” statements made in the course of closing the debate. She objected that Cr. Doyle’s comments constituted an abuse of the meeting procedure.
50. In her submission to the Panel, Cr. Watts acknowledged that “voices were raised”.
Cr. Watts alleges that members of the public would confirm that shouting was heard coming from the Council Chamber, however no evidence was called which was confirmatory of this. The Panel notes ; having listened to the audio recording of the debate which was provided to the Panel by Cr. Doyle, that Cr. Doyle’s response could certainly be described as animated, assertive and forceful and that Cr. Watts’ responses or interjections were certainly voluble, vigorous and also forceful.
51. It is also put by Cr. Watts that Cr. Doyle’s remarks, which she described as • “hostile, aggressive and provocative”, “…impugned both [Cr. Watts] reputation and professional conduct. Although the public were ‘obviously excluded from the meeting, senior officers and support staff were present”. Cr. Watts says that she found the conduct of Cr. Doyle professionally and personally offensive, claiming that:
[Cr. Doyle] clearly failed to treat her with respect and did not have due regard to her opinions, beliefs, rights and responsibilities.
52. Cr. Doyle’s response to this allegation, in his written submissions, dated 3 April 2013 asserts that he “…conducted the meeting in an efficient and appropriate manner and dealt with all Councillors, including Councillor Watts, with respect and courtesy.”
53. Before the Panel, Cr. Doyle observed that the names of two Directors of CityWide had been made public and that the leak had damaged the reputation of Council.
He denied that his statements at the meeting about the breach of confidentiality were directed at Cr. Watts. Cr. Watts’ response at the hearing was to say that whilst making observations about breach of confidentiality at the meeting, Cr. Doyle maintained eye contact with her, and that she felt that his comments and behavior was “very nasty”.
Cr. Doyle’s refusal to participate in mediation and “conditional” mediation, October 2012 — February 2013
54. Cr. Watts informed the Panel that, with regard to the mediation of her complaint against Cr. Doyle made in 2012, although a mediator had been appointed, and although Cr. Watts had engaged in an individual session with the mediator, Cr. Doyle declined to participate in further mediation until either Cr. Watts withdrew her compliant, or until the conclusion of the 2012 election.
55. Following the election of a new Council, Cr. Watts sought, through the CEO, to resume the mediation process. She understood from the mediator that, although Cr. Doyle had met with her, he had imposed further conditions upon his participation in the process, these being that:
• Cr. Watts withdraw her complaint;
• there be no reference to past behaviour; and
• the agenda for mediation be limited to discussion about the future.
 56. Cr. Watts’ therefore claimed that, despite her being willing to undertake mediation in accordance with c1.6.2 of the Code, “the process did not lead to any resolution because [Cr. Doyle] would not participate.
57. At the hearing, Cr. Watts re-emphasized the understanding conveyed in her complaint. She submitted that the Code of Conduct ought to be changed, so that an external mediator should be required.
58. Cr. Doyle’s response, as contained in his submissions of 3 April 2012, acknowledges his reluctance to engage in a formal process with Cr. Watts and says that this was so because of her resistance to his attempts to get her together with the CEO to discuss the earlier complaints against her.
59. Although Cr. Doyle says that he has at all times been prepared to sit down with Cr. Watts (the Panel assumes by this that he means in an ‘informal’ way) to “discuss her complaint as well as problems that have arisen from her earlier conduct and how we could work together on a constructive basis in the future”.
He also goes on to note that he would have been prepared to “attend .a joint mediation session if all issues concerning Councillor Watts and [him] were to be discussed”.
60. Cr. Doyle further submits that Cr. Watts was not bound to participate in mediation on the basis that he suggested; nor, he says, was he bound to participate on the basis that Cr. Watts suggested. He argues that his decision not to participate in the mediation process did not constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Sustained pattern of behavior including exclusion, disrespect, lack of recognition at meetings, August 2011— October 2012
61. This ground concerns the conduct alleged to have been engaged in by Cr. Doyle as Chairman of meetings of Council or Committees. There are several aspects to Cr. Watts’ complaint.
a. she -was habitually marginalized at meetings, seldom recognized as a ‘seconder’ of motions and consequently rarely recorded in the Minutes of meetings;
b. Cr. Doyle, though his control of meetings, and superior knowledge of meetings protocol, attempted to confuse and humiliate Cr. Watts;
c. in respect of motions put by Cr. Watts, Cr. Doyle adopted an approach directed to embarrassing her in public, employing disrespectful, dismissive and disparaging language and tone;
d. Cr. Doyle habitually misrepresented Cr. Watts or attempted to trivialize her comments at meetings, adopted a scoffing and disparaging tone in dismissing her views; and e. when she sought to have a procedure for recording Councillors’ comments in the minutes, she was rebuffed — but the same proposal, when proposed by Cr. Kanis — was accepted. – x ,
62. In respect of these matters, whilst Cr. Watts acknowledged that Minutes of meetings may not reveal the conduct complained of, she nevertheless asked the Panel to undertake a “scan of the minutes” to reveal that she was rarely recorded as a seconder of motions. It is, however, inappropriate for the Panel to trawl through minutes of the meetings held between August 2011 and October 2012, as Cr. Watts suggested, to attempt to substantiate her contention. That was and is a matter for Cr. Watts as a party to the proceeding, not the Panel.
 63. Cr. Doyle’s response, contained in his submission dated 3 April 2013, acknowledged that it is his responsibility to control proceedings, and submitted that demonstrating a superior knowledge of meeting protocol does not constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct. He also notes that Cr. Watts does not give any examples in support of her contention that his language, tone and demeanour were disrespectful. He observes, in agreement With Cr. Watts, that substantiation of such claims by reference to minutes would be impossible. Further, Cr. Doyle denies that he repeatedly misrepresented or attempted to trivialize Cr. Watts’.comments and notes that no examples have been provided by Cr. Watts.
64. At the hearing before the Panel, Cr. Doyle maintained this position, stating that Cr Watts had advanced only general and vague assertions about her subjective grievances, as to which there was no possibility of providing evidence.
Attempt to discredit Cr. Watts’ complaint at Directions Hearing, 6 March 2013
65. Under this head, Cr. Watts seeks to argue that, at the Panel’s Directions Hearing, Cr. Doyle attempted to misrepresent the complaints, embodied in her Application to the Panel, and disputes the submissions that Cr. Doyle made at the Directions Hearing on the subject of mediation.
66. These are not separate grounds of application. It is inappropriate for them to be raised in this manner They add nothing to the complaint, and the Panel declines to deal with them, other than to record that the Panel finds nothing inappropriate in the conduct and demeanour of either party at the Directions Hearing.
CONSIDERATION AND FINDINGS Portfolio responsibility
67. Cr. Watts does not dispute that, in the period to which her application relates, the prerogative of allocation of portfolio responsibilities was the province of the Lord Mayor, and reposed in Cr. Doyle as the holder of that office. On the evidence provided by Cr. Watts, it is possible that there may have been, from time to time, occasions on which it might have been open to Cr. Doyle to allocate some form of portfolio responsibility to her.
68. The Panel will assume,- for present purposes, that the prerogative exercised by the Lord Mayor in allocating portfolios must not be exercised according to “whim or personal agenda”. The Panel accepts that Cr. Watts was disappointed that, in the period concerned, she was not allocated portfolio responsibility. However, there is nothing in the evidence to show that the failure of Cr. Doyle to allocate portfolio responsibility to her was based on whim or personal agenda or any is improper motive. A failure to allocate portfolio responsibility does not, of itself, lead to the inference that a “whim” or “personal agenda” was the reason.
69. Consequently the Panel finds that no breach by Cr. Doyle of the Code has been established.
Personal Explanation/Statement
70. The Panel has noted the conflict between the Notes of Cr. Ong’s meeting with CORBA representatives and his written statement provided to Cr. Doyle. Both Cr. Doyle and Cr. Ong have denied that the former participated in the preparation of the Personal Statement. Whilst the Panel has concerns about what is recorded as being Cr. Ong’s statement at the meeting with CORBA representatives, as against his written statement to the Panel, in the absence of evidence from the person who may have taken the notes at the meeting, on balance the Panel is constrained to accept the evidence of Cr. Ong in his written statement and of Cr. Doyle’s evidence at the hearing.
71. However, even had Cr. Doyle discussed with Cr. Ong the statement that was to be made at the Council meeting on 13 September 2011, the Panel is of the view that no impropriety attaches to consultations and discussions of this kind. We see no impropriety in a Councillor discussing a matter of concern to him or her with the Lord Mayor. Further, we are satisfied on the basis of Cr. Ong’s statement that the only advice he received was as to the procedural vehicle by means of which he could bring his concerns to the attention of Council. This was provided by the Manager Governance Services and was something that it was entirely appropriate for him to do.
72. Under the terms of the Meeting Procedures Code as it now stands, Cr. Watts would have been entitled to have her Personal Explanation appended to the Minutes. That was not the case in 2011. The decision not to append the text of Cr.Watts’ Personal Explanation to the Minutes was a vote of the Councillors acting as • a determinative body, not an act of Cr. Doyle acting alone.
72. Cr. Watts argues that Cr. Doyle was able to command a block vote which, in effect, prevented her Personal Explanation being appended to the Minutes.
However there is no basis upon which the Panel may go behind a particular vote.
There is nothing surprising in the circumstance that a majority of Councillors may agree upon, or disagree with, a particular course of conduct. Cr. Doyle denies that he was influential or instrumental in bringing about the outcome complained of by Cr. Watts. Even if he was, having regard to the processes of local government bodies . , or any formal committee meeting, the Panel is unable to find that any breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred.
Alleged bullying and harassment, March-April 2012
73. It is clear that complaints were made by Council officers which were ventilated by the Manager Governance to the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Alexander and in turn to the Lord Mayor. It is not for the Panel to pass upon the validity of those complaints, or to make any determination whether those grounds of complaint 16 might raise issues with respect to the compliance by Cr. Watts with her obligations under the Local Government Act, and we do not do so. There is no material before the Panel which leads us to doubt that the complaints were not advanced out of genuine concern as to the issues raised.
74. The Panel has set out above the history and text of email exchanges between Cr. Watts and Cr. Doyle. It appears that Cr. Watts steadfastly refused to attend to meet with the CEO and the Lord Mayor, other than on her own terms. As appears to the Panel, she never did engage directly with the CEO on the matters of complaint.
75. Cr. Watts’ complaints appear to centre upon a requirement she sought to impose of having either an independent third person present (what may often be referred to in other contexts as a ‘support person’) or a legal practitioner. She also sought that she should have access to legal advice. There is a conflict in the evidence as to whether or not Cr. Doyle offered Cr. Watts an opportunity to obtain legal advice at the expense of Council. Cr. Doyle says that the offer was as to governance training through Maddocks. The Panel understands that Cr. Watts obtained legal advice — though that advice, and its subject matter, is not in evidence before us. On balance, having regard to the various communications on the subject the Panel accepts the Cr. Doyle’s appreciation of the issue is the more probable.
76. In the Panel’s view, it was appropriate for the Lord Mayor to propose that he be in attendance at the meeting between the CEO and Cr. Watts, particularly in the limited capacity that he proposed in his communications with Cr. Watts. The Panel sees nothing objectionable about that proposed role.
77. More difficult is the question whether Cr. Watts should have been allowed the meet with the CEO with the support of an independent person. As the matter evolved; no meeting with the CEO occurred. Consequently, it would not be possible for Cr. Watts to demonstrate any actual prejudice from the absence of such a support person.
78. In the circumstances the Panel is unable to see that the conduct of Cr. Doyle towards Cr. Watts in respect of the complaints by officers, and the investigation and resolution of those complaints, was other than appropriate. Consequently the Panel is unable to find that any breach of the Code of Conduct has been committed by Cr. Doyle.
Cr. Doyle Warning Councillor
79. Cr. Doyle accepts that he did caution Cr. Shanahan not to get involved in the processes attending the complaint by the CEO with respect to Cr. Watts. The complaint was of a serious nature. It entailed a possible beach of the Local Government Act. There had been suggestions that a Councillor Conduct Panel might be established in consequence of the complaints, and there was a possibility that the complaints might have been referred to the Municipal Inspectorate.
80. The management of these complaints was, as appears to the Panel, to have been a matter of some complexity if not sensitivity. We see nothing inappropriate in the Lord Mayor, as the person responsible for resolving the complaint, interceding between the CEO and Cr. Watts, taking steps to ensure that the matter was dealt with in a manner that did not inflame or complicate the central issues involved in the complaint. It was consistent in our view for Cr. Doyle, in his capacity as Lord Mayor, to counsel Cr. Shanahan to avoid engaging in or assisting in conduct that might prevent the complaint being resolved without un – necessary rancour and in a manner that did not damage the reputation of the Council.
81. The Panel is satisfied that there was nothing in the conduct of Cr. Doyle with respect to Cr. Shanahan that constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Incident at Special Confidential Meeting, 4 September 2013
82. The Panel, having listened to the recording of the meeting, does not accept that Cr. Doyle, in his closing statement, was other than appropriate in the level of his voice, though his manner and tone was as we have described above. Indeed, whilst it is difficult to judge solely on the basis of an audio recording of the meeting, it would appear to the Panel from that recording that the interjections and remarks of Cr. Watts were at least equal in volume to those emanating from Cr. Doyle.
83. In the absence of evidence from persons who may have been outside the meeting room as to what might have been audible, the Panel is not able to infer that the language used inside the room would have been audible outside.
84. It is of concern that, when Cr. Doyle addressed the issue of leaks of confidential information by a Councillor, that Cr. Watts perceived that Cr. Doyle engaged in eye contact with her. We do accept that Cr. Doyle’s comments were passionate and direct and have no doubt that Cr. Watts perceived that the comments were directed at her. Cr. Doyle submits that his remarks were directed at the Councillors as a whole. In the absence of direct evidence of observations, other than the voice recording, it is not possible for the Panel to say that Cr. Doyle directed his comments about an alleged breach of confidentiality to Cr. Watts.
85. The Panel is satisfied that there was nothing in the conduct of Cr. Doyle at the Special Confidential Meeting that constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Cr. Doyle’s refusal to participate in mediation and “conditional” mediation, October 2012 — February 2013
86. Cr. Doyle concedes that he was unwilling to participate in a formal mediation with Cr. Watts other than on his own terms, which have been explained above.
He also states that he Would not expect Cr. Watts to participate on terms that she did not accept. The Panel is left in some uncertainty as to Cr. Doyle’s intention when he submits that he would participate in a mediation where all issues between him and Cr. Watts were available for discussion. It is unclear whether that specific proposition was put to Cr. Watts at any time.
87. However, the central issue for the Panel is whether or not a refusal or failure to• participate in a mediation, except upon particular terms, may constitute a breach of the Code. As befits arrangements for dispute resolution, the provision made in cl. 6 of the Code of Conduct is not prescriptive, but is flexible and aspirational, based on an assumption that the parties in dispute will conduct themselves with a measure of openness and good will. Given that the process is non-prescriptive, it is difficult in the Panel’s estimation to establish that the imposition of conditions upon mediation is readily characterised as constituting a breach of the Code. Both Cr. Doyle and Cr. Watts imposed, or sought to impose conditions. In the circumstances it is not possible to find that any breach of the Code has occurred.
Sustained pattern of behavior including exclusion, disrespect, lack of recognition at meetings, August 2011 — October 2012
88. Cr. Watts’ claim under this head is, as she acknowledges, one which is difficult to prove. As noted above, it is not for the Panel to embark upon the task of examining a large volume of minutes of Council and Committee meetings. Even if such a survey resulted in a finding that Cr. Watts was rarely recorded as the seconder of motions, that would show little or nothing about the conduct of the meetings. Equally, in the case of allegations about demeaning or dismissive conduct, the minutes would reveal nothing These may be matters appropriate for independent witness evidence, as to which there is none. But in any event, questions whether conduct is, for instance, demeaning, are matters of impression and subjective judgment. The evidence before the Panel consists only of accusation and denial. In the circumstances the Panel is unable to find that the allegation is substantiated.
Attempt to discredit Cr. Watts’ complaint at Directions Hearing, 6 March 2013
89. For the reasons given at paragraph 65 and 66 above, the Panel declines to entertain this complaint.
The “Pattern of behaviour” claim
90. As noted above at para. 5, Cr. Watts sought to raise, as a separate ground of complaint, that Cr. Doyle had engaged in “a pattern of behaviors over time” which itself constituted or demonstrated a breach of the Code of Conduct.
91. The Panel has found that none of the allegations against Cr. Doyle has been substantiated.
92. Whilst it may be theoretically possible for a Panel to find that a pattern of behavior is substantiated, even though the individual circumstances on which the pattern is alleged to be founded, have not been made out — the principle perhaps being that the whole being greater than the sum of the parts — in the Panel’s opinion this is not such a case.
93. This is because the Act requires that particular breaches of specific provisions of a Code of Conduct must be substantiated before an adverse finding may be made against a Councillor. A “pattern of behaviour” is not itself tangible complaint of breach of the Code, particularly in circumstances where what is sought is a finding of misconduct.
Dated: 21 August 2013
Chairperson, List “A” Legal Member
“List B”, Governance Member

Questionable conduct: Report on Lord Mayor’s Harassment Claim – tabled but not distributed

The City of Melbourne tabled a report on the Coucnillor Conduct Panel’s determination of Cr Jackie Watts harasment claim made againt Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Link: 6.7b Councillor Conduct Panel – tabling of determination and reasons for determination

The report was tabled by a motion moved Councillor Stephen Mayne and seconded by Deputy Lord Mayor, Susan Riley.

Cone of Silence amongst brothers and sisters

The Melbourne City Council refused to make copies of the report available to the media and members of the public in the public gallery.

Stephen Mayne refused to outline the finding of the report and the recommendations made which is required under law to be tabled at the Council meeting.

The extent of silence amongst Councillors was deafening as the motion was passed without debate or discussion.

Doyle rejects open public review of bike plan design and impementation – offers internal review instead

Melbourne Lord Mayor offered to conduct an internal departmental review behined closed doors but rejected the proposal put forward by Councillor Richard Forster to hold an in open open session a review of the Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road bike lane proposals

Acknowledging that there were major problems with the design and implementation of the Council’s $2.6 Million  Latrobe Street bike lane Robert Doyle voted to deny public scrutiny and review of St Kilda Road development based on the the Latrobe Street design

Thank you for your email on 29 July 2013 regarding various traffic management issues.
We will be conducting a thorough investigation into your concerns, which should be completed by 16 August 2013.
If you wish to provide more information or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Geoff Robinson, Manager Engineering Services quoting Customer Service Request number 2340565

The City of Melbourne is committed to continually improving the way we do business and we appreciate you taking the time to contact us.
Yours sincerely
Robert DoyleLord Mayor

Greens oppose Bicycle Lane review post Princes Bridge Trial

Melbourne Greens are opposing moves by Independent Councillor Richard Foster to hold a open public review of the proposed St Kilda Road 330m Bicycle Lane opposite the Art Gallery.

The City Council in closed session held in May agreed to a trial of the Princes Bridge Bicycle lane amidst promises that motorists would not be inconvenienced and that traffic times would remain the same.

The trial was to go for three months and presumably would then be subjected to open public review.

The Princes Bridge lane closure trial to date has not been successful with congestion on the St Kilda road route pushing out  travel time across Princes Bride to more than 10 minutes.  In spite Robert Doyle’s to  claims that the delay is no more then one minute.  What is worst is the congestion remains well into the night when the bike lane is empty.

In a further act of contempt for open consultation the City of Melbourne under delegation is proposing to start construction on a controversial “Latrobe Street:” style bike lane on the South Bound side of St Kilda Rd.  A move that has seriously undermined confidence in the Council and the promised consultation process.

The Current elected council has not discussed or considered the proposed Lane design or construction other than approve the budget for the development.
Cr Foster is concerned is that the Council has got it wrong and as such he has moved a motion to be considered at next Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee a deferral motion to allow for the proposed bicycle lane to subject to a comprehensive review in September.

The Greens with the support of Councillor Mayne are opposed to the review and want to push ahead with the development at all cost.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle on public radio stated that the The Latrobe Street Bike path which was installed earlier this year and cost ratepayers $2.6 Million is not working.

The proposed 330m St Kilda Road lane is the same design as the failed Latrobe Street bike lane. Given that teh Latrobe St  Lane is not working you would be forgiven in thinking that a review of the design would be prudent if not good governance.

There are better safer alternative designs such as the Claredon Street East Melbourne Bike lane that are supported by Senior City Council Engineers.  A design that cost significantly less and meets all the concerns over safety and access, A design that has not been properly considered by the Council or management.

The 350m bike path is not going to address Cyclist concerns and shifts instead it creates safety issues related to access for the disabled, the elderly, Families and emergency vehicles.

There is little wonder why the Council is referred to as Clown Hall and why the Greens are deemed to be living in fairly land

The proposed one month delay, until September and subsequent review by Richard Foster is welcomed and should be supported by the City of Council as a whole if the Council is sincere in finding the best solution and use of limited public resources and maintain public confidence in the Council administration.

Bad Engineering: St. Kilda Rd Bike path fails to consider disabled

Cracks have began to appear in the City of Melbourne’s St Kilda Rd  Bike Lane separation proposal.

The proposed development has not been subject to a public review by the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee and the needs and concerns of community groups ignored with the City Engineers failing to take into consideration the impact on disabled stakeholders needs.

The design  of the St Kilda Rd  bike lane is similar to that recently installed in Latrobe Street which has been met with wide condemnation, Recent  comments in public radio by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle indicate the LaTrobe Street bike path was not working and that Council is now forced into considering withdrawing on-street car parking in the area. A move that has angered retailers and owners alike.

The Copenhagen style bike lane separation structures constitute a serious risk to public safety and  motorist parking with disabled and elderly passengers effected the most. The proposed development does not comply with public policy in relation to disabled access.  The Office of Disability in the Department of Human Services had not been consulted.

Calls have been made for the Lord Mayor and City Councillors to put an urgent halt to the proposed development in St Kilda Rd to allow for a public review of the City’s Engineering Bike plan amidst concerns that there are better alternative design options.

The proposed development which is budgeted to cost $330,000 is scheudled to commence on August the 5th

Efforts to contact Richard Foster (Spokesperson for the Council’s People City Portfolio), Cr Ken Ong and Stephen Mayne (Planning) to try and put a hold on the proposed development so as to allow for review and stakeholder consultation was unsuccessful.

Doyle’s Dodgy Data and Porkies about Princes Bridge Bike Lane Trial

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, and Bicycle Network lobby accused of promoting false and misleading statical data to justify the reduction in car lanes on Princes Bridge.

News Limited, Jessica Evans, falsely reported that there are 5500 bikes using Princes Bridge which services an average 40,000 cars a day. Robert Doyle also claimed that the number of bicycle movements on the Bridge represented 10% of all traffic movements.

Official figures published by Vicroads portrays a different story.

Vicroad’s maintains an induction loop counter on St Kilda Road in front of the Shrine of Remembrance and reports that the daily average number of bike movements on St Kilda Road to August in 2012 was 1652 (891N and 761S) and 2,691 bikes movements in 2011. Far less than the over inflated figure of 5,500 quoted by the City of Melbourne, the Bicycle Lobby and Journalists.

Independent counts undertaken the week before the lane closures indicated less than 2000 bikes use Princess bridge matching the Vicroads statistics A figure that concurs with the RACV’s data analysis.

This represents less than 5% of the overall traffic movements.

The greatest number of bicycle movements on the North bound lane across Princess bridge is in the morning peak hour 7:45AM to 8:45AM. 0utside this period on average there is less than one a minute.

Traffic congestion on the bridge extended beyond the peak hour period as motorists were forced into one lane whilst the bike lane remained empty. 

Monitoring of traffic on the Bridge during the morning peak hour showed that a number of bicycle riders continued to use the foot path as opposed to the provided dedicated North bound bicycle lane. Some even travelling in the wrong direction riding in the footpath South not North.

Activists critical of the City of  Melbourne’ Bike Network were sidelined by radio 3AW jock Neil Mitchel when interviewing Robert Doyle on Thursday Morning. Mitchel cutting them short by falsely claiming they were lobbyists.   It was clear that Robert Doyle and Neil Mitchel  did not want to have an informed debate or exposure of the false statistics espoused by the Lord Mayor.

The current elected City Council has not debated or approved in open Council meetings the closure of the Princes Bridge lane which was rushed through so money set aside for the project could be spent before the June 30 financial year comes to a close. The Princes Bridge Bike lane is on trail for 3 months.

Cyclist riding South on the footpath in wrong direction

Sign advising Cyclists to dismount ignored and not policed in full view of the City of Melbourne CCTV camera located adjacent on Flinders Street Station

Overnight Lane Closure on Bridge

The City of Melbourne has embarked on an overnight road to reduce traffic access on Princes Bridge to make way for a new Bicycle plan.

North bound traffic on Princes Bridge will have push their way to merge into one lane in order to to cross the river.

The City of Melbourne, under Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has pushed ahead with the lane closure in spite community opposition by the RACV, VicRoads, and local Residents.

Residents South of the Yarra say they have been cut-off and access to the city is now limited.

There is no other viable alternative mans of crossing the River East of Princess Bridge.  The Swan Street Bridge is already congested as is the case to the Queens Street Bridge to the West.

The City of Melbourne claim that the lane closure is a trial and that the Council will evaluate its impact following a 3 months trial

The City of Melbourne say that Princes Bridge is used by over 5,500 cyclists a day yet official VicRoads figures show only 3000 bikes have been recorded crossing the bridge in summer. A recent independent survey taken last week showed that less than 2000 bikes where using the St Kilda Road bike lanes.

The City Council is engineering congestion. T^he Princes Bridge will be the sixth lane closure in the City constricting traffic movement. Other roads include Albert St, Latrobe Street, Queensberry Street and Macaulay Road with plans for more City roads to be reduced to single lane traffic.

Motorcycle and Scooter riders have joined the growing chorus of opposition to the City Bike madness. They say that “the City traffic is getting worse as a result of the growing number of bike lanes which are empty most of the time”. The bike lanes take up space that Motorcyclists and Scooter riders use to access to move ahead of standing traffic.

Police and emergency services are also concerned at the level and safety of access to the city.

Motorists parked on LatTrobe street are reporting insufficient room to park the car. Drivers are running the risk of opening car doors into on coming traffic.  It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured. the City Council will be forced into removing car parking along LaTrobe street all together.

The City of Melbourne has had to make a number of changes to the Latrobe Street design and they still have not got it right.

Traffic traveling Eats along Queensberry Street say they are forced to use a single lane even though there is no bicycles using the bike lane.

Last night the City of Melbourne ignored community concern that the Council was about to spend $300,000 on constructing a bike path along Neil Street Carlton.  A Street that has no traffic and very few bicycles using it. Estimated to be less than 30 bikes a day. The Neil Street plan is opposed by all community groups including Melbourne Bicycle Users Group MBUG.

The push for lane closures and the construction of bike lanes is the work of Geoff Robinson, City Engineering and Rob Adams, director of Urban design

Geoff Robinson had to spend the money now before the end of the financial year or risk losing funding.

The current City Council has not voted on the Princes Bridge project which is proceeding under delegation and decision made by the previous Council.   Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who had previously campaigned on a policy to limiting the growth of bike paths, has become captive  to the Greens and the bike lobby.  It is understood that a majority of the elected Council is also opposed to the Princes Bridge closure. The suggested trail will uncountably become permant as divers are forced to queue to access the City.

The City Council last night also rejected a proposal to use the millions of dollars collected in a congestion tax to  be used to provide free inner city public transport. A proposal that was rejected by the Council and the Two Greens who refused to even consider it.

Council Officers mislead public

Serious concern that that the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and  City of Melbourne Director of Planning Geoff Lawler has mislead the public in response to proposed changes to Melbourne Planning Scheme to be introduced on July 1.

Mr Lawler who failed to present a written report outlining the effect of proposed changes to the planning scheme has compromised the City of Melbourne in the process.

Clause 22.12 of the Melbourne Planning scheme  preamble states

This policy applies to applications for gaming premises in the Mixed Use Zone, Public Use Zone, Public Park and Recreational Zone, Business Zones and Industrial Zones and Docklands Zone. It is noted that gaming premises are prohibited in the Residential 1 Zone

On July 1, Business Zones 1, 2 and 5 will be transferred to new Commercial 1 zone

Under the revised planing  scheme to be introduced on July 1as amended by the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, Gaming venues will not longer require a planning permit  in the new Commercial 1 zone and will becomes an “as of right use” opening up the possible proliferation of gaming venues adjacent to residential precincts. Gaming venues come under the definition of Retail premises as defined under the the Victorian Planning Scheme.

Self appointed anti gambling advocate and Deputy Chairman of the Melbourne City Councils planning portfolio were oblivious to the impact of the proposed changes.  Councillor Mayne had previously given an undertaking to review the matter and present a report in June but to date has failed to fulfill this undertaking.

When asked where and when a report on impact of the the proposed changes will be presented to Council Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle rejected to notion or suggestion that the Council had given an undertaking to table a written report. Director of Planning Geoff Lawler, sought to deflected criticism of the Council not being informed or advising the public of the impact of the proposed changes.

It is understood that this issue was discussed in an unreported closed session Councillor forum.

Recordings of the City of Melbourne Future Melbourne Committee held on May 14 and June 4

Extract of Minutes FMC held on May 14
Anthony van der Craats, resident, asked the Committee a question in relation to the Minister for Planning’s recently announced changes to the Victorian Planning Scheme, which resulted in the abolition of Business 1 Zones and when will the City of Melbourne be undertaking a review of the schemes? (00:01:30 to 00:02:55 Recording of meeting)

In response to the question raised by Mr van der Craats, the Director City Planning and Infrastructure, Geoff Lawler advised that it is very early days as the rezoning has just been announced. He is currently beginning to understand the process and will bring the information to Councillors once it is fully known.  (00:02:56 to 00:03:40 Recording of meeting)

In response to a question raised by Anthony van der Craats, the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle advised that as per the previous discussion regarding the zoning changes at the beginning of the meeting the matter will be brought before Council, but cannot guarantee it will be at the June Council meeting.

Given the 1 July 2013 deadline the Council will be pressing to make sure this is as expeditious as possible  (01:06:30 to 01:08:04 Recording of meeting)

Blind Faith: Council accepts verbal assurance that new planning regime will not adversely effect residential amenity

Chair of Governance and Deputy Chair of Planning, Stephen Mayne reneges on previous undertaking for the City of Melbourne to provide a comprehensive report on the impact of the State Government’s proposed new planning zones which comes into affect on July 1.

Under the proposed new planning regime all ‘Business zones” will be transferred into a new comprehensive ‘anything goes” “Commercial 1” zone which includes an “as of right use” (No planning permit required) for a tavern and gaming venue.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Stephen Mayne and other Councillors accepted in blind faith a verbal undertaking given by the Director of Planning, Geoff Lawler, in closed session of council that existing “overlays” in Melbourne’s planning scheme would protect and prevent the establishment of taverns and gaming venues that adversely affect adjoining residential precincts. 

(Clause 22.12 of the City of Melbourne Planning Scheme outlines “Policy” in relation to Gaming venues  and Clause 22.22 which outlines “Policy” in relation to Licensed premises which both reference Business Zones which are being phased out on July 1)

Geoff Lawler in response to requests for a written report reassured the council and public gallery that “developments such as the one proposed for 157 Domain Rd South Yarra and the establishment of a restaurant/tavern last month would not proceed under the new Planning zone provisions”

Mr Lawler failed to outline exactly which overlays and in what way they would protect the residential amenity of South Yarra.

Clause 22.12 and 22.2 are policy guidelines that apply to the consideration of any new Planing permit application. Under the new Commercial 1 zone a planning permit is no longer required for a licensed Food and Beverage premises such as a Tavern, Gaming venue or Nightclub

If, as is feared, a new application is made after July 1 for a change of use and the developer seeks to exercise his new “As right of use” and reinstates a request for a tavern and it later shown that the advice given by Mr Lawler was false then we can expect calls for both Robert Doyle and Councillor Mayne, along with Geoff Lawler, having mislead the public to resign.

Prudence is the best policy not complacency

A verbal nod and a wink is not satisfactory and fails to instill confidence in the City Council administration of planning.

The onus still lies with the City Council and it’s administration to provide a written assessment outlining in detail which provisions of the Melbourne planning scheme Mr Lawler is relying on when giving his advice.

Any Councillor that is prepared to accept verbal advice should also put their job on line.

New Commercial 1 zone to replace Business 1, 2 zones


Shown on the planning scheme map as B1Z, B2Z, B5Z or C1Z.
To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy
Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.
To create vibrant mixed use commercial centres for retail, office, business, entertainment and community uses.
To provide for residential uses at densities complementary
to the role and scale of the commercial centre.
34.01-1 Table of uses
Section 1 – Permit not required

  • Retail premises (other than Shop)
  • Shop (other than Adult sex bookshop)

The defination of retail premises includes:

  • Food and drink premises
  • Gambling premises
  • Landscape gardening supplies
  • Manufacturing sales
  • Market
  • Motor vehicle, boat, or caravan sales
  • Postal agency
  • Primary produce
  • sales
  • Shop
  • Trade supplies

The defination of Food and drink premises includes:

Convenience restaurant

Take away food premises

Previously Business 1 zone (To be phased out on July 1) listed under


34.01-1 Section 1 – Permit not required

Food and drink premises (other than Hotel, Restaurant and Tavern)

34.01-2 Section 2 – Permit required

Retail premises (other than Betting agency, Food and drink premises, Postal agency, Shop, and Trade supplies)


Doyle Trial by deception. Pushes ahead on Princes Bridge lane closure

Melbourne City Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, thumbed his nose at the community and has decided to push ahead with plans to remove traffic lanes on Princess Bridge to make way for bicycles.

Robert Doyle claims the proposal is a trail by city insiders know this is not the case

The City Council has been criticised by the RACV, business and residents alike with Residents’ South of the Yarra complaining there were not been consulted .  South of the Yarra will be blocked-out from accessing the city as Princes Bridge is the MAIN access point to the City.

The number of cyclists using Princess Bridge is minimal and even less during during off-peak and the non summer periods.

Melbourne’s bike paths have come under considerable community opposition.  It’s bike madness.  The City of Melbourne is Engineering congestion.
The push for more bike paths in the City comes from City Engineers Geoff Robinson and Haig Poulson.

Last month the City Council had to defer it’s Road Safety Plan following complaints by Melbourne’s Motorcycle and Scooter riders that they were not consulted in the development of the Traffic management plan.

And it was not just Motorcyclist they were not consulted the City Engineer department also failed to consult Melbourne’s Emergency services, Ambulance or Fire Brigade.  Questions are being asked what impact the lane closure will have on Ambulances accessing the City from the Alfred Hospital?

The proposed lane reduction on Princes has been opposed by the RACV, Motorcycle/Scooter riders, businesses and City residents who have called on the State Government to step in and assume management of the City’s road infrastructure policy development and put a halt on the sheer madness that has engulf our city leaders.
The City Council is flushed with cash and the engineering department is keen to spend up big and issue contracts for expenditure that is not required.  

The Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street bike paths are not working and the intersection of Latrobe Street and Queen Street is an accident waiting to happen.

You only have to travel down Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street where the Council has spent over 2.6 Million Dollars constructing bike paths that service few bikes.  There is hardly a bike in sight on Queensberry Street yet the council has dedicated a full lane of traffic to bicycles generating congestion in the Street and beyond.

The City of Melbourne has proposed spending additional $300,000 in next years budget on a bike path in Neil Street Carlton. 

We contacted a number of Councillors today and asked them if they had been down Neil Street? They said they had not.  Had they done so they would see that there is no Bicycle traffic or significant car movements in Neil Street that warrants the construction of a $300,000 bike path.  Most bikes use Canning Street not Neil Street.

Robert Doyle is pandering to the wishes of a few at the expense of the majority and in the process demonstrating why he would not have been a good State leader.   

The Princes Bridge “Trial” and lane reduction is another chink in the Armour and is having a negative impact on City businesses .  City Commuters and business will pay the cost for the Council’s engineered congestion,

Doyle pushes for Princes Bridge lane closure

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and the City of Melbourne plans to push ahead with the proposal to reduce traffic lanes in Princess Bridge to allow for the creation of a bike lane amidst opposition from  road users and the local community.

A reported 27,000 motorists use Princes Bridge to access the city a day .  The proposal is to reduced the number of car lanes from two in each direction to just a single lane to create a dedicated bike lane catering for less than 2000 bicyclists.

The Council’s claim to have consulted with stakeholders is false. The Council had consulted with bicycle riders, Vicroads and the RACV but has failed to consult with Motorcyclists, Scooter riders or local residents in South Bank or South Yarra.

Most traffic crossing Princes Bridge heading into the city turn right into Flinders Street and head east and also travel in the reverse direction when existing the city.

The proposed lane closure is expected to increase congestion in the city. The Flinders’ Street/Princess Bridge route is the only route that provides vehicle access to the South Yarra precinct.   Morall’s Bridge to the East which has been closed to vehicular traffic, is for pedestrians and bicyclist only.  The only other nearest means of crossing the Yarra into the City is along Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bride and the Batman Ave. Tollway that travels next to the Tennis Centre and into Exhibition Street.

Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bridge option is already congested with traffic backing up at Swan Street bridge as far back as Princess bridge and the Arts Centre  in peak hour traffic with little easing during the day.   This rout can not absorb any overflow created by Lane closure on Princes Bridge

The other option is for Motorists to travel down South Bank Boulevard around the Casino tuning left at Power Street and across into William Street or turn right and then along Queens Street.  Both of these options will increase travel time for motorists by 20 minutes and further add to city congestion.

The Council could look at constructing an new bridge linking Linlithgow Avenue to Batman Avenue but that would costs Millions of dollars. 

Transport Minister Terry Mulder says VicRoads has jurisdiction over the project.

“VicRoads would have to be consulted for any work that was to be undertaken on that bridge and any impact it would have on the broader road network,” Mr Mulder said.

Last month on 3AW Neil Mitchel Denis Napthine, Victoria’s  Premier, claimed that VicRoads had not signed off on the project.

Opposition spokesperson on Road, Luke Donnellan has also expressed concern over the proposed lane closure.  “The City of Melbourne must put in place alternative routes and measures before it can close down traffic on the bridge. All other options must be considered first.

Melbourne City Councillor Richard Foster echoing the views express by Luke Donnellan has called on the City of Melbourne to implement better line marking and bike path delineation before reducing traffic access to the City.

The City of Melbourne must rethink its proposed lane closure and consult more widely or run teh risk of a community backlash,.  South Yarra residents, who were not consulted, have expressed opposition to the proposal .  Residents are calling on Local State member and former deputy Lord Mayor,  Clem Newton-Brown to put a halt to the project and engaged in more consultation and consider alternative options.

Negligence or Corruption a question on Twitters mind

Questions remain unanswered following last months fatal wall collapse with the City of Melbourne ducking for cover and in lock down mode avoiding responsibility.

According to a City of Melbourne spokesperson a permit is required for the construction of a hoarding on a building site. The City of Melbourne in its statement published on April 9 stated that a permit was not issued for a hoarding on the GroCon Swanston Street building site that collapsed on March 28 killing three pedestrians.

When asked on April 16 if the Council had issued a permit for the NEW hoarding on thee GroCon Swanston Street site and if the Council Officers had inspected the site and if not why not? Councillor Stephen Mayne, Chairman of the Council’s Governance portfolio was unable to answer and took the question on notice.

A week has passed and still the City of Melbourne has not been able to respond to this important and yet simple question.

Questions are being asked if the Council is guilty of contributory negligence for the death of three innocent people by failing to fulfill its statutory obligations and/or if Council staff had received inducements to turn a blind eye to the requirement to issue a permit for the construction of a hoarding?  Both the new and old hoardings were taller then the maximum height of 2.4m listed in the Council’s Construction Management Plan guidelines.

It is a simple question and deserves an answer. 

Council itself, and Councillor Mayne in particular, are now being compromised by the Council’s failing to reply.  Avoiding the question will not make it go away and only serves to undermine public confidence in the City Council’s Administration.

The Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, may also be tainted by the Council’s lack of response with allegations being made that Councillor Doyle is actively seeking to block twitter discussion and review of his administration.

Negligence or Corruption a question on Twitters mind

Questions remain unanswered following last months fatal wall collapse with the City of Melbourne ducking for cover and in lock down mode avoiding responsibility.

According to a City of Melbourne spokesperson a permit is required for the construction of a hoarding on a building site. The City of Melbourne in its statement published on April 9 stated that a permit was not issued for a hoarding on the GroCon Swanston Street building site that collapsed on March 28 killing three pedestrians.

When asked on April 16 if the Council had issued a permit for the NEW hoarding on thee GroCon Swanston Street site and if the Council Officers had inspected the site and if not why not? Councillor Stephen Mayne, Chairman of the Council’s Governance portfolio was unable to answer and took the question on notice.

A week has passed and still the City of Melbourne has not been able to respond to this important and yet simple question.

Questions are being asked if the Council is guilty of contributory negligence for the death of three innocent people by failing to fulfill its statutory obligations and/or if Council staff had received inducements to turn a blind eye to the requirement to issue a permit for the construction of a hoarding?  Both the new and old hoardings were taller then the maximum height of 2.4m listed in the Council’s Construction Management Plan guidelines.

It is a simple question and deserves an answer. 

Council itself, and Councillor Mayne in particular, are now being compromised by the Council’s failing to reply.  Avoiding the question will not make it go away and only serves to undermine public confidence in the City Council’s Administration.

The Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, may also be tainted by the Council’s lack of response with allegations being made that Councillor Doyle is actively seeking to block twitter discussion and review of his administration.