PS – AND HERE’S PILLING’S EFFORT WITH NEIL MITCHELL -http://www.3aw.com.au/news/glen-eira-mayor-refuses-to-answer-sensational-gun-claims-20151208-gli2e4.html

Delahunty’s interview on yesterday’s Neil Mitchell program –

https://audioboom.com/boos/3912931-glen-eira-councillor-mary-delahunty-with-neil-mitchell

leader

Our following comments are directed to the processes that surround the in camera Special Council Meeting of 20th October 2015.

Council’s Local Law categorically states that ‘urgent business’ will only be entertained under Section 225(1) if a matter of an urgent nature has arisen since circulation of the notice paper and the Council resolves to consider the matter as urgent business

How can something be considered as ‘urgent business’ when –

  • The records of assembly for the 6th October contain the following – Cr Lipshutz – letter to Cr Hyams from the Jewish Community Security Group. With the Shabbat Project approaching Council needs to deal with the issues raised in the letter AND
  • From the records of assembly for the 13th October – Agenda Item 10 – Urgent Business – Cr Lipshutz, Security at community events.

The Shabbat Project is an annual event. It is not something that crops up at the last minute. We also don’t know the date of the letter to Hyams and why it should come not from the official organisers, but the ‘security group’. If the matter was really that urgent then legislation provides the means for a Special Council Meeting to be called at any time – either by the Mayor alone or with the signatures of 3 councillors.

The whole process appears to be continually mired in controversy and is fast becoming a divisive item. Here is an extract from the Minutes of September 23rd, 2014. Poor process and lack of good governance are evident – ie ‘the rescinding of a ‘council decision’ via email – when no such decision is recorded in any of council’s minutes as far as we know!

URGENT BUSINESS

Crs Lipshutz/Hyams

That a matter of the Shabbat Project be regarded as an item of Urgent Business.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

(a) Crs Lipshutz/Hyams

  1. That Council rescind its decision contained in the email to Mr Tom Winter on 19 September 2014.
  2. That subject to any prior bookings that Council hire the meeting room at the Caulfield Park Pavillion to the organisers of the Shabbat Project (the organisers) for the 25 October 2014 (the date) on Council’s usual terms and conditions and grant a permit to the organisers for the use of Caulfield Park on the date for the purposes set out in their application including a permit for the use of fireworks subject to Council’s usual terms and conditions including but not limited to:

(i) Compliance with all safety requirements in relation to the use of fireworks;

(ii) There being no interference or damage to the cricket pitch area; and

(iii) There being no interference with the use of the ovals for sport on the date and the following day.

DIVISION

Cr Sounness called for a DIVISION on the voting of the MOTION

FOR                 AGAINST

Cr Lipshutz     Cr Delahunty

Cr Hyams        Cr Sounness

Cr Okotel        Cr Magee

Cr Pilling         Cr Lobo

The MOTION was put and CARRIED on the Casting Vote of the Chairperson.

The Shabbat Project mentioned in the first record of assembly for 2015 featured numerous events in Melbourne (October 22nd).The Age also ran a story including this paragraph – In Melbourne, meanwhile, Jews of all ages and from all denominations were united in the spirit of the occasion, with more than 2400 people baking challah and attending the havdalah concert at Caulfield Park, and hundreds attending dinners, lunches, shul services, picnics, talks and everything in between.

Thus the question remains whether Council’s secret resolution was to provide ‘security’ for the Shabbat Program alone, or to ensure that Chanukah in the Park was able to switch from Caulfield Park to the racecourse once fears arose it might be cancelled altogether.

Further complicating matters is this Age report from November 23rd 2015 reporting on the ‘cancellation’ of Chanukah in the Park (See: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/security-risks-prompt-cancellation-of-jewish-event-chanukah-in-the-park-20151123-gl5po9.html). Of interest in this article are the views of several prominent Jewish Leaders who claimed that the event should still have occurred at Caulfield Park and that security was not a problem. The Leader (December 1st issue) claims that the event at Caulfield Park was cancelled on November 25th and once again it is claimed that the event could have gone on as originally intended. Whatever the ‘official’ date for ‘cancellation’ it is clear that ‘security’ was well and truly on the minds of Lipshutz and Hyams from early October. Whether this was strictly for the Shabbat Project events or intended to carry over to Chanukah in the Park is anyone’s guess.

In a ‘memorandum’ dated the 15th October Magee called for a Special Council Meeting. An Age advertisement appeared on the 16th October. That makes it 4 days prior to the actual Special Council meeting. The legislation (Section 89(4) requires 7 days notice. If notice is any shorter then the legislation also requires that Council MUST – specify the urgent or extraordinary circumstances which prevented the Council from complying with subsection (4) in the minutes. This has not been done.

We could also question whether the reasons given to conduct the meeting in secret are valid (ie security of land, etc) since the clauses quoted are only applicable to council meetings and Special Committee Meetings. There is nothing in the cited legislation which provides Special Council Meetings to be closed to the public!

Thus we get to the Special Council Meeting of 20th October and the highly questionable reasons for excluding the public. We quote –

“matters affecting the security of Council property” AND “any other matter which the Council or special committee considers would prejudice the Council or any person”.

The final phrase of the motion is important – which relates to the provision of security services for events on Council property.

If the switch to the racecourse was the objective, then we maintain that the above justifying clauses are entirely spurious since –

  • The Racecourse is NOT ‘COUNCIL PROPERTY’
  • What ‘prejudice’ to council or ‘any person’ could exist? And what does this even mean?
  • Did the Trustee’s who have responsibility for the Reserve give their permission?
  • Did any ‘negotiations’ take place with the MRC?
  • And who has the final authority to allow the carrying of firearms by anyone?
  • Who grants permits for the carrying of firearms?
  • What are the implications for long term = does this mean that at every Ajax footy or cricket game residents can expect guards with firearms?
  • And what if Ajax is playing ‘away’ – since the clause specifies ‘council property’, or
  • Was this all designed only for Chanukah in the Park, or for the Shabbat Project and what of the future?

And of course, there is the perennial question of WHO LEAKED to the Leader? Only officers and councillors would have been present at this secret tete-a-tete. Will the Leader journalist now be hauled off to court in the attempt to reveal his source as happened years ago with Matthew Dunkley? Hasn’t this Council learnt anything? – that secrecy only breeds suspicion and distrust.

Yes, Glen Eira Council is definitely one happy bunch of campers where so much is done behind closed doors. Countless questions remain as to what really goes on behind these closed doors and how the ‘victim’ is always transparency and good governance.

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