Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bob Hawkins

Before it happens, here is the news from the Huon …

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Huon Valley Guessing Games Sometimes, when facing an impossible challenge, one can be tempted to try just a little too hard. Down here in the Huon, our council — judged in June by Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein’s board of inquiry to be dysfunctional and beyond mediation — appears to have enthusiastically launched into crystal ball-gazing to give us, the public, an insight into the news before it happens.

Found on the HVC website on Monday, August 8, is a “media release” (above) dated 12 August 2016. It tells residents and ratepayers that “Council has provided its first report on the implementation of the Ministerial Directions to the Department of Premier and Cabinet”.

It’s not a release that has been accidentally misdated; it is part of “Item No. 15.035/16” on the agenda of a special meeting of council to be held at 5pm this Thursday (August 11), and is to be found in the attachments to the agenda. It is, in fact, a recommended media release, but its very presence among publicly available council documents tells us that management (which, due to the Local Government Act, calls the shots in all local councils) is anticipating that the special meeting will go exactly according to plan. Also, the proposed release does have the potential to suggest that what we are now watching is a horse (in the form of the mayor) being led to water and expected, by order from on high, to drink.

The proposed media release, following 11 bullet points — listing HVC’s alleged achievements since Gutwein meekly got tough with council in June and threatened, if councillors didn’t get their act together and de-dysfunctionalise themselves, to sack them and appoint a commissioner — ends with a nonsense quote attributed to Mayor Peter Coad. What it says is not even clever spin: The Council is absolutely committed to carrying out these directions to ensure that Council continues to represent the community into the future.

What on earth does that mean? “Continues” suggests that council means to “represent the community into the future” in the dysfunctional way we are told it has been run for we don’t know how long.

Can’t imagine words like those quoted above actually coming out of the mouth that dozens of us in the public gallery have been listening to these past 21 months: Coad, who normally makes reasoned, and good, sense, simply doesn’t talk like that. It reads like more PR bullshit to me.

Yet, on the understanding that the GM makes up the council’s agenda in collaboration with the mayor (as I seem to recall, the Local Government Act lays down), those words should be there with Coad’s approval. That thought has me flummoxed. Would love to see him, or another councilor, suggest that the nonsense be deleted and something a bit more constructive be worked into the media release.

Perhaps, however, they’re just words council management can now put into Coad’s mouth because, presumably, it has been directed by Gutwein, or his Local Government Division, that the mayor has no right to the freedom of speech one would expect of an elected representative of the people; and that Coad is not allowed to say anything that might reflect his opinion rather than that of council as a whole.

So much for democracy in the Huon Valley in the glorious Deep South of Australia’s mythically depicted “clean, green” island state, home of political gobbledegook and alarmingly transparent incompetence.

It’s all too hard to spell out in detail. But, basically, what is happening in Huonville today is that HVC (management and an elected council long dominated by the Heart of the Huon group and its predecessors) — having been given the green light by the Honourable LG Minister to manage its own way out of its own dysfunction and chaos — is going about its job with, in my experience, unparalleled zeal and flourish.

HVC is quite clearly on such a high, it’s now into extreme prescience — even to the extent of approving the news before it happens, at the same time making its mayor look like a puppet leader who utters banal nonsense at the direction of the Minister for Local Government who is presiding over a total shemozzle of his own making.

The crap that is in reams in the documents for the August 11 meeting doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to the reformation of a council found desperately wanting by a board of inquiry appointed by the LG minister.

All of this would be too corny for words, and totally laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that HVC today is akin to a jail that has been abandoned by its warders, and the inmates ordered to reform themselves. — Bob Hawkins

(The agenda and attachments for the August 11 special meeting can be found at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BzULlslhVdqfc25RSGRLWFM3aWM. The attachments may take a long time to download.)

• Ben Lohberger in Comments: So this article is predicated on ridiculing a draft media release, published in the agenda for an upcoming council meeting? The Huon Valley Council is regularly damned by Bob Hawkins for being too secretive, but now he’s damning it for being too transparent. And how strange that the big issue involving the Mayor this week is not even mentioned …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Huon Valley residents could witness a kangaroo court in action at tonight’s special meeting of council in Huonville. A report by the general manager, reported on in today’s Mercury (p. 12), accuses the mayor of 15 breaches of the loaded “ministerial directions” that Gutwein issued on June 15 after ignoring the main “sacking” recommendation of the board of inquiry he appointed. New councillor James Lange carries a huge burden tonight: he can vote for democracy and help reject the GM’s recommendations; or he can vote for the status quo, a situation that has burdened the valley for so long with a secretive local government that is still mired in 20th century practices. Whichever way the votes go tonight, it should make it clear to the minister that the time has come for him to pull the plug on this dysfunctional council and put in an administrator. The meeting, conveniently for those who are behind the attempt to stitch up the mayor and eventually get him sacked, starts at 5pm. This makes it difficult for working people to get there on time; it might even make it difficult for two councillors — including Lange — whose votes will be vital to the outcome of the recommendations before the council. Under the LG Act, a tied vote is a lost vote. Only eight councillors are expected to be in attendance tonight, Lydia Eastley being on maternity leave.

• Trish Kyne in Comments: Dates produced by council management are not proof that Mayor Coad has breached the minister’s (Gutwein) directive 3, as asserted in the Mercury today. Under the LGA mayors are obliged to ‘Act as a leader of the community in the local municipality’, e.g. comments on the recent floods are expected. It is interesting that no-one else appears on the list of breaches for Directive 3. There have been many comments to the media, both print and radio, from other councillors. Biased reporting? What’s new? However, having placed these charges on the HVC website, accessible to the general public, the assertions are defamatory. The article in the Mercury demonstrated how accessible the information was. At tonight’s (Thurs) meeting Mayor Coad had newspaper copies of a letter to the editor of the Mercury from one of the valley residents. The letter was one of the listed dates the council attributed to the mayor. Another related to comments following the recent flood. The mayor abstained from the vote regarding the proposed motion as it could prejudice his position should he sue the council.

Mercury: Minister to rule on Huon Valley Council breach

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Robin Charles Halton

    August 12, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Poor Peter Coad on top of a wall of bricks falling on him he has now he has got those PETA (people) on his back driving him stupid over a nomentulure issue with Eggs and Bacon Bay renowned for its native plant Eutaxia obovata.

    F..k what next will be new for the “damned if you do and damned if you dont” Huon Council.

    Sack em, and they will see that it is highly likely Peter Coad will be reelected as as suitable Mayor, as for the serial stirrers they need a rebirth on another planet.

    (edited)

  2. Shane Johnson

    August 11, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    The Mercury article by Loretta Lohberger falsely claims that the Huon Valley Council ‘endorsed a report that found all credit card… transactions was for a purpose approved by the council’.

    It did no such thing. In fact, a majority of Councillors voted to adopt an alternative Press Release that was written by the Mayor, Peter Coad, that specifically excluded this comment. The Councillors decided that they had not and could not assess each item of expenditure to determine whether each was an appropriate use of Council funds.

    Council also voted on and rejected the inclusion of alleged breaches by Mayor Coad of Ministerial Direction 3 in the report to the Minister.

    This highly reasoned and principled support of the Mayor by the Councillors had the potential to have serious ramifications.

    It forced the General Manager, Simone Watson, to intervene and point out that Council’s vote would highlight to the Minister that they had not met this Direction and that this may lead to the dissolution of Council.

    Council then adopted a different wording for the report in relation to Direction 3.

    But why was this in the public domain in the first place? Why were the draft Press Releases put into a public space when they clearly did not have the Mayor’s support?

    As the Mercury’s Lohberger points out ‘One of the ministerial directions states all public statements regarding council positions and decisions must be approved by the council or jointly endorsed by the mayor and general manager’.

    These Draft Press Releases were public statements and they were not jointly endorsed by the Mayor and General manager.

    It is obvious to me that the inclusion of this information was done solely to isolate the Mayor, to manufacture breaches of the Direction and to try to force the Minister’s hand to sack the Mayor.

    The majority of Councillors saw through this Macchiavellian play and would have none of it.

    What also should be seen is that mediation between the Mayor and General Manager will not work. This was the firm view of the Minister’s own highly-credentialed Board of Inquiry.

    In light of last night’s events, the article in the Mercury should be titled Council supports Mayor Coad… not Minister to rule on Huon Valley Council breach.

  3. William Boeder

    August 11, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you Bob Hawkins …
    The major problem within the HVC is still not being dealt with.
    Given that the HCV matter has so much betwixt and between yet not available for public view, as the same miasma of suspicion as the matter of the call Royal Commission into the financial services sector here in Australia.
    This call is being ignored by 3 major institutions, they being the Regulatory Authorities of ASIC and APRA then includes the office of the Federal Attorney General.

    So we se the major 3 institutions are obeying the high political forces of the Liberal party itself.

    Now apply this same formula to the persons in the HVA Council who desire to disrupt and to prevent any cohesion between the elected Mayor and his supporters, then those of the opposing force by their own attempt to hold the mayoral role of council conducted meetings, decision-making skills, possessing the casting vote when necessary, along with the various roles a mayor is obliged to attend to.
    So yes there is a political mystique of interference somewhere among the structure of this Council.
    It is here that I will state that the dark shadow of a former mayor may yet propagate miasmic atmospheres to pall over the Huon Valley Councillors.
    I now refer to the former Mayor of the HCV who recently enabled himself to be elevated into the membership of Tasmania’s legislative assembly as the member for Huon.
    End result, political empowerment over a usual citizen elected local council.

  4. pat synge

    August 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    This debacle demonstrates quite clearly that HVC should be stood down and a commissioner appointed.
    Why is the Minister taking so long?

  5. Trish Kyne

    August 11, 2016 at 2:36 am

    Dates produced by council management are not proof that Mayor Coad has breached the minister’s (Gutwein) directive 3, as asserted in the Mercury today. Under the LGA mayors are obliged to ‘Act as a leader of the community in the local municipality’, e.g. comments on the recent floods are expected.

    It is interesting that no-one else appears on the list of breaches for Directive 3. There have been many comments to the media, both print and radio, from other councillors. Biased reporting? What’s new?

    However, having placed these charges on the HVC website, accessible to the general public, the assertions are defamatory. The article in the Mercury demonstrated how accessible the information was.

    At tonight’s meeting Mayor Coad had newspaper copies of a letter to the editor of the Mercury from one of the valley residents. The letter was one of the listed dates the council attributed to the mayor. Another related to comments following the recent flood.

    The mayor abstained from the vote regarding the proposed motion as it could prejudice his position should he sue the council.

  6. Just saying..

    August 10, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    (Anonymous comment challenged and deleted).

  7. Bob Hawkins

    August 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Huon Valley residents could witness a kangaroo court in action at tonight’s special meeting of council in Huonville. A report by the general manager, reported on in today’s Mercury (p. 12), accuses the mayor of 15 breaches of the loaded “ministerial directions” that Gutwein issued on June 15 after ignoring the main “sacking” recommendation of the board of inquiry he appointed. New councillor James Lange carries a huge burden tonight: he can vote for democracy and help reject the GM’s recommendations; or he can vote for the status quo, a situation that has burdened the valley for so long with a secretive local government that is still mired in 20th century practices. Whichever way the votes go tonight, it should make it clear to the minister that the time has come for him to pull the plug on this dysfunctional council and put in an administrator. The meeting, conveniently for those who are behind the attempt to stitch up the mayor and eventually get him sacked, starts at 5pm. This makes it difficult for working people to get there on time; it might even make it difficult for two councillors — including Lange — whose votes will be vital to the outcome of the recommendations before the council. Under the LG Act, a tied vote is a lost vote. Only eight councillors are expected to be in attendance tonight, Lydia Eastley being on maternity leave.

  8. Carol Rea

    August 10, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Ahhh Geoffrey some irony today in a Mercury article. It seems Mayor Coad’s chats on record have put him in danger of removal. Tonights Council meeting will be even more tense than usual. Apparently it’s a three strikes and you’re out rule.

    “HUON Valley Mayor Peter Coad has breached a ministerial direction on 15 occasions, according to a report expected to be endorsed by the council tonight.

    The apparent breaches could be enough to start the process of removing Councillor Coad from office.

    Non-compliance with ministerial directions can be grounds for code-of-conduct complaints, which would then be determined by the Code of Conduct Panel.”

    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/breaches-of-ministerial-directions-could-lead-to-removal-of-huon-valley-mayor-peter-coad/news-story/9debccb3e7c25cdc5f66fb75efb6d516

  9. Geoffrey Swan

    August 10, 2016 at 2:50 am

    #6 Having once worked for the HVC Ben, (I am told), I imagine you will be well aware of the Archive Act that ensures any communications by phone, email or meeting must be recorded.

    This information came to me from Ms Watson this week following my request to be able to contact our Councillors direct via email (as most other Tasmanian councils do).

    “We are unable to give out personal email addresses as all Council related matters must be recorded in our central records system in accordance with the Archives Act”

    And here is the link – makes fascinating reading and has me wondering how many of our elected Councillors do actually follow this rather arduous process. It is no wonder former Cr Studley resigned passing comments that being a Councillor left him with “little time to work and spend time with his family”.

    “Details of significant advice, commitments etc made during telephone or verbal conversations or via SMS should be recorded using the Council’s standard file note template (e.g. time, date, parties involved, summary of discussion, commitments, advice given etc and reasons for them). Notes in Councillors’ diaries are generally not adequate for this purpose, where there are recordkeeping requirements they should be converted into a formal file note. These records should be made as soon as possible after the event to ensure the information is accurate.”

    https://goo.gl/3A8byy

    Given this regulatory stipulation it is hardly likely Mr Hawkins and Mayor Coad are in the habit of chatting as you suggest – and the last thing our Mayor needs at this difficult time is some bureaucrat suggesting our Mayor is out of order by “chatting” with the Ratepayers.

  10. Simon Warriner

    August 10, 2016 at 12:59 am

    re 3 Perhaps the residents of the Huon council should be more worried that the deputy mayor is confusing the whole world with an organisation comprised entirely of zealots?

    “I think the world has gone mad, I just can’t barely believe it,” Huon Valley deputy mayor Ian Paul told Guardian Australia.”

    The mayor is only mentioned in that article as being the target of a letter from the zealots.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/09/peta-wants-tasmanias-eggs-and-bacon-bay-changed-to-apple-and-cherry-bay

    As for the ABC article: Exactly what issues does Coad think should be taken seriously?The ABC article does not directly clarify that.

    The health issues? The naming issues? The price of eggs in China? The issue of overreach by a general manager of a council which looks more and more to be the victim of a serious case of narcissism as time wears on? The writer does not clarify by including the question that gave rise to the quoted reply. The way the line above is constructed invites the reader to make the assumption, but as has been stated often and widely, assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.

    In both articles I see plenty of mirth directed at Peta, and rightfully so. I see no evidence of Coad being pilloried for his entirely generic and unspecified quoted response to a question that was not actually present in the article that contained it.

  11. Ben Lohberger

    August 10, 2016 at 12:21 am

    #4 Bob. If only the content of the media release is important, why all the ridicule at the start of the article?

    And if you don’t think the Mayor said those words, why don’t you just pick up the phone and find out, instead of all this conspiratorial theorising?

    You two are obviously in contact, so what is stopping you from asking the Mayor yourself, and reporting the answer to your readers?

  12. Got Me a Conciliation

    August 9, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I think Mr Coad was like being conciliatory in his comment about the Eggs and Bacon Bay matter and, like almost everyone, laughed when out of the public view.

    Speaking of apples and cherries, the Apple Popper drinks have done so well, why no Cherry Poppers?

  13. Bob Hawkins

    August 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    #3 Ah Ben, you’re back — with yet another red herring. It is the content of the draft media release that is important; not the fact that it is on the agenda for Heart of the Huon councillors to approve. I cannot believe that the mayor could have been consulted in the drafting of this recommended release. As I say in my article, they are just not the kind of words Coad would use. But they are the kind of words I am sure a GM … of a dysfunctional council … would like to see published.

  14. Ben Lohberger

    August 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    So this article is predicated on ridiculing a draft media release, published in the agenda for an upcoming council meeting?

    The Huon Valley Council is regularly damned by Bob Hawkins for being too secretive, but now he’s damning it for being too transparent.

    And how strange that the big issue involving the Mayor this week is not even mentioned.

    Mayor Peter Coad was reported yesterday claiming a proposal to rename Eggs and Bacon Bay had “some merit” and “should be taken seriously”.

    The proposal from PETA to change the name to the more “vegan-friendly” Apple and Cherry Bay was all over ABC radio yesterday, as well as ABC online, and then on the 7pm ABCTV news. Commercial TV and radio news also covered it, as have today’s Tasmanian newspapers.

    It’s been widely reported (and ridiculed) right around Australia.

    Interesting that Mr Hawkins’ article, about basically nothing, would appear on this particular day without even a mention of the Mayor’s latest public escapade.

    ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-09/peta-wants-tasmania-eggs-and-bacon-bay-name-change/7705166

    The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/09/peta-wants-tasmanias-eggs-and-bacon-bay-changed-to-apple-and-cherry-bay

  15. mike seabrook

    August 9, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    be done with it – merge with kingborough – let the taroona end residents transfer to hobart council if they wish

  16. William Boeder

    August 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    The photos depicting our State government ministers are not complete without their failure rate being published below their false media depicted smiling faces.
    The person above is not unknown to engage in beguiling contretemps to advance the causes detrimental to our State.

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