New rule to put misbehaving councillors on watch

(Damjan Janevski) 336543_02

Gerald Lynch

Hume councillors could be removed from the council chamber for misbehaving, under a new ruling being considered by council.

Council is looking to give its chair the power to remove a councillor who is behaving poorly.

Currently, the chair has the power to remove any member of the public who is watching the meeting in the gallery if they are acting in a manner that is disruptive or harmful to the meeting or to members of the council.

Councillor Carly Moore raised a notice of motion at a May 29 meeting, explaining that a gap in council’s governance rules meant that currently, the chair does not have the power to remove a councillor no matter how poorly they may be behaving.

“Our community expects and deserves high standards of behaviour from those councillors that have been elected to represent them, and I expect that if a councillor was disrupting a meeting or threatening the stability of a meeting, that councillor should also be removed from the meeting,” she said.

“I think it’s appropriate to hold ourselves to the same standard of conduct that we hold our community to.”

Cr Joseph Haweil agreed with the need to re-affirm the responsibilities of councillors to conduct themselves in a respectful manner.

He said there has been a lot of discussion about conduct in councils nation-wide, and he hopes to see respectful conduct in the chamber from this point forward.

“Much like our own private workplaces, this itself is a workplace, and that demands us to carry ourselves in a way that is fitting for a professional workplace, but more than that, to go above and beyond those standards of behaviour because of the great privilege and honour that has been bestowed upon us as elected officials,” he said.

He said it is councillors responsibility to represent the wider community respectfully.

The decision will undergo community consultation before becoming an official section of the Hume council Governance Rules.