At the first council meeting of the year, Lipshutz and Delahunty moved this motion – “Issues a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit for Application No. GE/PP-28482/2015 allowing the construction of buildings and carrying out of works, use of the land at 2-4 Princes Street for a Place of Assembly associated with the Synagogue at 574 Inkerman Road and reduction of the car parking requirement in accordance with the following Conditions….”. The permit was granted, allowing events to occur weekdays until 11pm as well as increasing the number of ‘celebrations’ to 400 patrons in conjunction with normal prayer services. There were 16 objections.

Our concern is not with the application itself but whether Lipshutz should have declared a conflict of interest and removed himself from the chamber. It’s not the first time that the question of conflict of interest raises its ugly head in relation to Lipshutz. We have had numerous instances of his failure to declare what most reasonable people would perceive as either a ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ conflict of interest. Some examples to refresh people’s memory:

  • numerous items on the racecourse where both Esakoff and Hyams declared conflicts, yet Lipshutz stated that because he wasn’t a ‘member’ of the MRC he had no conflict of interest!
  • in discussions on a petition where he, Hyams and Esakoff were named, yet he and the other two voted not to accept the petition
  • the famous ‘how-to-vote-cards’ episode and the permit granted to Emmy Monash
  • of course the famous Whiteside dummy spit over a permit for a property in Inkerman Road associated with the Gutnicks and where public open space was ceded to the applicant. Lipshutz’s ‘response’ was to label Whiteside as ‘anti-semitic’. (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/why-bother-asks-former-glen-eira-mayor-20121022-281jw.html)

But in 2008 he saw fit to declare a conflict on an application for a mere two double storey townhouses in Daley St., Bentleigh  – “Cr Lipshutz declared an Interest in this item as he knows the applicant and works with him on matters of communal interest.” (Minutes of 26th February 2008)

Thus ‘communal interest’ and ‘knows the applicant’ was enough back in 2008 to declare a conflict. What about currently? The image below comes from Page 12 of a document that originates from the applicant for the permit referred to in the opening paragraph. We have also uploaded the full document.  (HERE).(Source for the following: http://www.caulfieldshule.com.au/about-us/admin/policies/item/95-child-protection-policy.html)Pages from Child_Protection_PolicyThe ombudsman has made it absolutely clear that the public’s ‘perception’ of a conflict is a legitimate concern for any public official as it reduces trust in both the official and the status of local government. Lipshutz did not state at any time that he was the ‘independent member’ for this particular congregation. No records of assembly minutes reported that he had declared any conflicts. No other councillor uttered a word. Perhaps they didn’t know. If that is the case, we believe that it was incumbent on Lipshutz to let them know! How many more times will this councillor ignore the advice of the ombudsman and the constraints of the Local Government Act? And how many more times will councillors allow him to get away with such actions?

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