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

Huon council short-shrifts former mayor’s plea to pay his legal costs …

First published March 29

Huon Valley Guessing Games It is not too late for Huon Valley Council’s (nine-councillors-in-one) commissioner, Adriana Taylor, to change her mind and give ex-mayor Peter Coad the justice he deserves.

The staff recommendation for today’s (March 29) council meeting (agenda item 15.013/17) is that council not pay the $40,000 that Coad, as mayor, spent on legal advice (1) defending himself (and his reputation), and (2) meeting his responsibilities as mayor of a council that, one way and another, made it impossible for him to effectively carry out his duties.

An example of the kind of treatment Coad, as mayor, had to face was the publication in August last year — in a document freely available to the public — of a report by the general manager that accused him of 15 instances of “non-compliance” with Ministerial Direction 3 issued by Local Government Minister Gutwein on June 16, 2016. Amazingly, Coad says he was not aware of those charges until after the report had been made available to the public.

COMMISSIONER Taylor wrote to Coad on March 21 to say that council would not pay his legal costs. Her letter to Coad concludes: “I have considered all advice and have determined that the expenses were incurred personally by you and were not expenses incurred on behalf of the council. Therefore I am not in a position to approve the reimbursement of the legal expenses incurred by yourself.”

Coad, commenting on Taylor’s letter, said: “The commissioner’s legal advice is correct in that I was required to have the approval of council to pay my legal costs. The missing element here was that the council was dysfunctional and I was always going to be denied access to the payment of the mayor’s legal costs. The commissioner has the authority to rectify this injustice, but has chosen not to do so.”

LIZ SMITH, for 15 years an HVC councillor (and always an advocate for good governance and transparency) until all nine councillors were sacked last October, was the author of the petition calling for payment of Coad’s legal costs that was presented to council’s February 22 meeting.

On Monday (March 27), she issued a statement in response to agenda item 15.013/17. In it, she says:

“I am very disappointed by the report, which does not, in my view, provide adequate reasons why the council should not pay Peter Coad’s legal costs. There are many questions that arise from it.

“The legal costs were incurred because the elected mayor, Peter Coad, was trying to achieve good governance standards at the council. He was acting in the best interests of the Huon Valley community, as Mayor, not as a private individual. As listed in the petition, the legal costs of the general manager for her complaint against the mayor in August 2015 were fully paid, as well as legal costs incurred by other councillors who commissioned legal services without the authority of council.

“The report implies that the costs will not be paid because the mayor, unlike the general manager, was not an employee of the council. After I lodged complaints with the Anti-Discrimination Commission in 2009 and 2011, [later GM] Simone Watson argued that the Anti-Discrimination Act did not apply because I was not an employee of the council and councillors were not covered by the Act. This view was not supported by the Anti-Discrimination Commission, which accepted the complaints.”

EX-MAYOR COAD has long asserted that at least one legal bill incurred by the action of three councillors was paid by HVC. He said this week that, in Taylor’s letter to him of January 3 this year, she said that “council has not paid any expenses that may have been incurred by any individual councillor”.

Coad recalled that then-councillor Mike Wilson, at the August 31, 2016, ordinary meeting of council, said that an informal (therefore, unofficial) meeting of the HVC Governance Committee in August 2015 had given him the authority to engage an independent secretary to attend a meeting on August 26, 2015.

“As chairman of the Governance Committee,” Coad said, “I was not formally advised or requested by any councillor to conduct any out-of-session Governance Committee meeting in accordance with section 5 of the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015.

“I believe this purported Governance Committee meeting had no legal status and was nothing more than a meeting of individual councillors. Any decisions made at that meeting on behalf of council would, in my view, be illegal . . . How can there be a legal meeting when I, as the chairman of the Governance Committee, was not formally advised, invited or informed of its purpose. The meeting in my view was not called in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act.”

Coad said: “The Governance Committee is only an advisory committee to council and has no authority or delegation from council to make any formal decisions to engage legal advice or expend council funds.

“The [Local Government] Minister and the Director of Local Government were advised that the alleged Governance Committee meeting, convened by Councillors Wilson, [Pav] Ruzicka and [Ken] Studley, was possibly illegal. Both the Minister and the HVC commissioner have, I believe, acted inappropriately by not taking action on what is a clear possible breach of the Local Government Act by councillors acting outside their authority with the express purpose to support the GM in her formal complaint against the mayor.”

Coad also said: “Councillor Wilson advised council on August 31, 2016, that the account for secretarial services that he personally engaged from a legal firm was to be forwarded to the deputy mayor, who would in turn supply the account to council (as the mayor and the general manager were conflicted in this matter).

“As the former mayor, I am not aware of any formal resolution of council for the payment of these legal expenses incurred by Councillors Wilson, Studley and Ruzicka.”

“The commissioner has advised me . . . that she cannot reply as to the legality of these issues surrounding the alleged out-of-session Governance Committee meeting as she was not there at the time. The documentation that is held by council confirms that the commissioner is not prepared to form a view as to the status of the out-of-session Governance Committee meeting . . .

“Notwithstanding Councillor Wilson’s comments that the legal accounts would not be forwarded to myself or the general manager, the HVC commissioner has confirmed in writing that the account was authorised and approved by the general manager.

“I believe Councillor Wilson was correct in assessment of the conflicts held by the GM, yet the GM chose to authorise the payments of the legal advice commissioned by Councillors Wilson, Studley and Ruzicka. Clearly, council has paid for these legal expenses of these individual councillors.”

In relation to the still secret Page Seager report in response to the Gutwein board of inquiry report, Coad says the commissioner had advised him that the general manager engaged Page Seager on December 14, 2015, under her delegation but did not say for what purpose. “My legal adviser,” he said, “was advised by the GM that she engaged Page Seager on behalf of council on March 17, 2016, to prepare a response to the board of inquiry report.

“I believe the responses received from the commissioner raise many more questions . . . Why councillors Wilson, Studley and Ruzicka engaged a solicitor to take minutes and cost ratepayers thousands of dollars?

“Given that it is now confirmed that Page Seager acted for the GM in her formal complaint against the mayor, why was Page Seager commissioned by Councillors Wilson, Ruzicka and Studley to attend the ordinary meeting of council on August 26, 2015, knowing that Page Seager had assisted the GM in her formal complaint against the mayor?”

Coad said: “How can the commissioner let these questions go unanswered? Who are being protected from investigation and for what purpose? Why was the mayor kept in the dark by these councillors about their actions in calling an out-of-session Governance Committee meeting? Why are the minister and the commissioner refusing to investigate these matters?

Of the staff recommendation re Coad’s legal expenses, it is not unreasonable to imagine that HVC management — which the Gutwein board of inquiry acknowledged was hostile to Coad throughout his two years as mayor — is still not well-disposed towards him.

Taylor is in possession of adequate evidence that Coad always acted with dignity and propriety throughout the two years he coped with both management’s lack of co-operation and with the hostility of a group of councillors.

More importantly, she should be aware that, if justice is to be done — and, equally important, that it is seen to be done — Coad must have his legal expenses paid by council, just as the legal expenses were paid of those arrayed against him.

It is known that legal costs relating to a personal grievance of the GM — in relation to an issue the GM felt had arisen between her and Tasmanian Times and myself — were paid for by the council. It is also known that, simultaneously, the same circumstances applied to a grievance of one of council’s “executive” managers.

There is nothing in the Local Government Act that I can spot that prevents Taylor from rejecting the staff recommendation and approving payment of the $40,000 or so claimed by Coad. It is a sum that pales into insignificance when compared with how much public money council (under the chairmanship of now-MLC Robert Armstrong) lost as a result of unwisely investing about $4 million in financial products that in no way could be considered “low risk”. To my knowledge, no one at the time (circa 2008) or since has been subject to anything resembling disciplinary action, even if only for failing to put public money where it should be invested — in simple, non-risk reputable bank term deposits or government bonds.

In fact, the legal costs Coad ran up — defending himself and working to keep council responsible — fall far short of legal fees ($54,000) that council paid on just one commission for a report from lawyers Page Seager that clearly was designed to tip the findings of the Gutwein board of inquiry in favour of council management — and against Coad. That report has never been officially released to be read by those who paid for it — the people.

There are more examples of what I saw as extravagant waste by a council that, to my mind, has been less than competent for years — certainly since I started paying rates to it in 2008 — and highly secretive.

COMMISSIONER TAYLOR says she has to responsibly protect public monies. That’s true. If HVC is to regain the trust of a public that is, at best, still widely chary of its behaviour, she also has to be responsible for seeing that not only is Huon Valley Council proper in all its areas of operation, it must be seen to be proper.

Sadly, since its sacking last October, HVC has, to my mind, still not done enough for the public to be sure that it is behaving well.

For example, for all I know, the trio settled on earlier this year to select HVC’s next GM may have been truly independent of mind. But it certainly did not look “independent” to me. That selection panel — comprising Taylor (Gutwein’s troubleshooter at HVC), the CEO of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, and a former GM of Hobart City Council and long a pillar of the Southern Tasmanian local-government establishment — did not meet my standards of true disinterest.

THE MORE I ponder it, the less I am inclined to see substance in Commissioner Taylor’s assertion earlier this year that the best route to council reconstruction would be for it to remain under her control until the October 2018 council elections. Although that would be the ideal way for council to stabilise itself and give the new GM a chance to get his administration competently operational, I’m now having doubts that will be the reality. Several Huon Valley local government observers seem to have the idea that there will be an election in October this year.

For example, why would wannabe mayor Mike Wilson be so actively campaigning for an election that he appears to believe is imminent? His almost weekly caricaturish adverts in the Huon Valley News suggests he knows something we don’t.

Although he has not attended a council meeting since the first that Taylor chaired (October last), it is rumoured that he has been politically active behind the scenes and has been in communication with council and state government. (In fact, apart from Smith, who attends all open meetings, no other ex-councillor has turned up at HVC’s monthly meetings since October.)

MEANWHILE, Geoffrey Swan, campaigner for a healthy Russell River ( http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/frances-bender-environmental-warrior-not-at-all/ ), is having his own tussle with council over the non-inclusion in the minutes of a question he asked at the February 22 meeting. On March 26, he wrote to council, saying, inter alia:

“I again refer you to my email sent to your attention March 1,, 2017. Apart from an acknowledgement of receipt, I have heard nothing further from your office. No responses to any of my comments below.

“I have again looked at the minutes online as of today’s date . . . Once more I seek your revision of the minutes to FULLY include my public question — not an abridged version of my full question . . . My formal request is that the minutes be amended to include a written copy of my question . . . Regrettably, in hindsight, because I forwarded my question in advance, I left it in your hands, however you chose not to read out the question. Therefore there is now no public record of my question in either the existing minutes or indeed the audio recording.

“I look forward to . . . an amendment to the minutes, which, as they stand, do not truly reflect my public question.”

Swan’s complaint brings us back to issues of transparency and competence. Serious question marks remain about whether HVC as it is now operating has what it takes to achieve the reforms so necessary for public confidence to be restored. HVC is still emitting signals that — having been stopped in its tracks and apparently shaken up by Minister Gutwein’s sacking decision —it will be allowed, before not too long, to resume normal operations with very little changes from the status quo ante.

HVC’S STAFF recommendation not to pay Coad’s legal fees sits, unhappily, well with the state’s two-centuries-old reputation for governments contemptuous of justice and fair play. I suppose, if Tasmanians apathetically continue to allow government at all levels to behave as it pleases, that’s all they deserve.

It would be so simple for Commissioner Taylor, to pay ex-mayor Peter Coad what he is due. It would put to rest an unsavoury HVC episode. I can’t imagine Minister Gutwein would want the stench of this issue still hanging around come next year’s state election. — Bob Hawkins*

*Bob Hawkins, a journalist since the mid-1950s, has been covering the affairs of Huon Valley Council for more than seven years. His collected work is HERE

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. William Boeder

    April 21, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    #87. You raise a good point Helen Walne, that which you allude to is how one can expect is the basis for its non public access or disclosure.
    Recall the letter report given by Mayor Peter Coad, then that the reply to that report was directed to the General Manager.
    This could not have been an office employee error, but more-so of a sequenced event beloved of under-belly operatives.
    The many deceptions and maladministration’s practiced in full view of the public are expected to be ignored by the smart-arse elements in the Tasmanian government, how about the non-literate former Mayor that has since become an MLC.

  2. Trish Kyne

    April 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I have just sent a letter to the Mercury in response to today’s article and the reported Kingborough bid to be allowed to discuss amalgamation with the Commissioner.

    Apparently a government spokesman stated that any talk of amalgamation would need to be left for consideration by elected officials.

    And that says it all. Cut the valley off and let the status quo return.

  3. Geraldine Allan

    April 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    #105, no argument from me.
    Oh gawd! Where to from here …

  4. Peter Bright

    April 21, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Geraldine Allen at #104 writes [i]”Over too many years of experiencing wrongdoing and impotent oversighting, I’ve witnessed a variety of splinter groups forming to pursue/demand proper action.

    “They never seem to last the distance and just fade away, achieving zero result.”[/i]

    Yes Geraldine, I understand your despair.

    It just goes to confirm that the numerous lower elements of Tasmania’s miserable gene pool remain as toxic and as widespread as ever.

    Expect no change unless something radical is implememented.

    Some other pool for them perhaps, like an ocean.

  5. Simon Warriner

    April 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    re 104, and using that same repetition technique for good, here I go again, Geraldine.

    If we are to have any hope of “some courageous person” using “the power to act remedially or the power/guts to instigate corrective action,” we first must create the circumstances in which such people can exist and flourish. Clearly they are not present now.

    We can do that by putting into government individuals who display the independence of mind, integrity and intelligence we require of them. Clearly, as your response indicates, they will not come from the present, political party sourced stock. Once in parliament, those individuals can use the power available to them to make possible the actions that will end the rorts and bring the perpetrators to account.

    That project can be advanced, and is advancing, by individual, aware, angry voters acting of their own volition, slowly over time. Or, it can be sped up by enough of those same voters coming together and producing enough noise that it attracts the attention of other angry voters, some of whom may be convinced of the merits of the argument and join in. The advantage of a group approach is that some of the mistakes around the differentiation between “independent” and “single issue” or “ideologically driven” candidates can be better explained to the electorate.

    It will not take many to make a difference, history has taught us that, but it will take more than me, on my own.

    What I am proposing is not a splinter group, chasing a single issue. That is precisely why they change nothing. What we have is a defective mob of politicians as a result of poor selection of breed stock. What I am proposing is the selection ind introduction of improved genetics, and the beauty of it is that we do not need the incumbents permission to do it.

    The ball is back in your court.

  6. Geraldine Allan

    April 20, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    #103, Simon, rhetorical question — over the years how many of us have reported serious wrongful and at times even criminal behaviour to what result? Zilch. We are still have these discussions. Yikes!

    Frustratingly, unless and until some courageous person — with the power to act remedially or the power/guts to instigate corrective actio, so does, it will be same ‘ol, same ‘ol. So wrong.

    Over too many years of experiencing wrongdoing and impotent oversighting, I’ve witnessed a variety of splinter groups forming to pursue/demand proper action. They never seem to last the distance and just fade away, achieving zero result.

  7. Simon Warriner

    April 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    re 101, Yes peter, BUT, the people doing the wrong thing are the sort that keep repeating what works for them, and that repetition creates a pattern over time.

    That is why reporting is important. I know they collude, proving that it is being done repeatedly might just be the straw that breaks that one camel’s back.

  8. Geoffrey Swan

    April 20, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Hello Editor (Lindsay).. given the press release from former Mayor Peter Coad that came out this evening I feel this story/post needs to move back to page one please..

    There is a much bigger story here and it needs the assistance of TT to bring it out into the open.

  9. Peter Bright

    April 20, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Simon, I believe that undercover collusion for nefarious purposes is standard in business and judicial circles.

    It’s commonly done by phone and at meetings.

    The main purpose is usually to secure selfish advantage and/or gain of some kind, usually money.

    So many of us have been way too naïve and have suffered accordingly.

    [i]”And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”[/i] KJV

  10. Trish Kyne

    April 20, 2017 at 12:14 am

    #98 My comment re ‘toothless’ is in relation to what I would consider upholding statutory requirements of the law and pursuing prosecutions under the law. Therefore, failing as employees to enforce statutory requirements under which they are employed. I believe this is widespread and government sanctioned.

    Having raised Worksafe as an example I have to agree. I know someone who had a work accident that was due to someone else’s negligence. When a colleague came forward with a written witness statement, his boss told him to ‘with draw’ his statement or ‘face the sack’. The colleague declined to withdraw his statement and lost his job.

    I have been told of accident scenes being released before the investigator gets to the site of an accident, sanctioned by someone with seniority and a phone call between mates while the investigator is in transit.

    I have been told that ‘asbestos’ has become a material that Worksafe employees are not qualified to recognise, and therefore cannot take samples at any time. At trial, absent samples of asbestos equals ‘no proof’ therefore ‘no case’ to answer in court.

    I believe we need a Crime & Corruption Commission with the same wide ranging powers they have in WA and Qld, free of government interference.

  11. Simon Warriner

    April 19, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    The quantum and destination of all government “settlements” with aggrieved employees should be reported on an annual basis, with reasons and the agencies involved being listed.

    I suspect that information would put the focus very squarely on the managers responsible. The figures from the NW Regional Office of the TFS over the last 12 or so years might make interesting reading, for example, and inform some serious scrutiny at estimates hearings.

  12. Simon Warriner

    April 19, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    re 95, far from toothless, Trish. My observation of Worksafe Tas suggests they are capable of gnawing on cases for months while the victim runs out of paid leave with which to fund their fight for justice.

    One interpretation of that conduct would see them as colluding with the target of a complaint. Especially when they failed to consult with any witnesses that might dispute the employers narrative.

    Nothing I have seen or heard indicates this is an isolated incident.

  13. Geraldine Allan

    April 19, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Excuse double post #93/94. There was in incorrect msg showing try again later, so I did!

    #95, bit dangerous to infer. What we know is Tas Govt settled a civil claim. http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/state-government-shells-out-198000-to-settle-legal-stoush-with-ex-integrity-commission-ceo-barbara-etter/news-story/59a0ed92418a2b01dbecda9284a29e7b

    And yes support and outcomes sadly very very lacking.

  14. Peter Bright

    April 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Trish Kyne at #95 is absolutely correct in her final paragraph’s summary, and her words are so true that they are worth repeating ..

    [i]”It appears to me that regardless of the name of the ‘watch dog’ agencies present in Tasmania, they are all toothless tigers and exist in name only. The public that don’t ask questions believe that these agencies are there to support them in times of need. It is only when they look for support they find the outcomes sadly lacking.”[/i]

    I have found the same thing repeatedly, and so I have concluded that these so-called protective institutions are deliberately set up to lull us into a false sense of security and to protect the guilty.

    I also believe that there’s a deliberate intention to induce such despair in applicants that we eventually give up. This is just what they want.

  15. Trish Kyne

    April 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    #94 Thank you for the Etter linc. I particularly noted the statement:

    “The R.T.I. Act is made even more critical given the appalling lack of publicly-available policy or guidelines in this state (unlike other jurisdictions) on the law or requirements of disclosure in criminal matters”.

    Barbara Etter is ex WA and is familiar with a much higher standard of the application of the law. From memory her initial contract in Tasmania was to head the Integrity Commission? A contract that she walked away from due to the constraints of the job (I would interpret that as political interference?).

    It appears to me that regardless of the name of the ‘watch dog’ agencies present in Tasmania, they are all toothless tigers and exist in name only. The public that don’t ask questions believe that these agencies are there to support them in times of need. It is only when they look for support they find the outcomes sadly lacking.

  16. Geraldine Allan

    April 19, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    In February 2013, Barbara Etter posted this info/opinion on her blog. Worth a read methinks.


  17. Geraldine Allan

    April 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Back to RTI.
    In February 2013, Barbara Etter posted this info/opinion on her blog. Worth a read methinks.


  18. Geoffrey Swan

    April 19, 2017 at 1:42 am

    #91 With respect Peter.. nothing “mere” about the defamation… and I am sure you did not mean it that way. We are witnessing some very sick and twisted citizens in the Huon Valley with a gene pool not too far from the felons who were deported from our mother country.

    Because I am a man of integrity, and because my wife is a practicing Christian woman who devotes all her time to charity for disadvantaged children overseas and works with local women in the Valley – I felt it was very necessary to post an ad in today’s Huon Valley News.. here it is for TT readers to read.

    “Malicious Defamation Attempt”

    “Last week a person(s) attempted to defame my character as a professional Artist by placing A4 colour posters in the Franklin Post Office and other locations in the Huon Valley.These posters were created using material that is readily accessible from my professional artist website.

    There is an ongoing Police investigation into the persons responsible for producing this poster. The anonymous and cowardly author has maliciously suggested I am seeking to engage with adolescent male models for a supposed upcoming exhibition.There is no up-coming exhibition and I do not and never have painted young, or older, males or adolescent female models – ever.

    I am unashamedly an accomplished artist specialising in the female nude for over 40 years. I have never worked with any models under the age of 18. Proof of age is always required and detailed contracts are signed. For 18 months I was an Artist in residence in the Salamanca Art Centre.

    The integrity of my wife and me is beyond reproach. This crude anonymous attack on my professional character is pure filth and evil.

    I will continue to speak up about issues of corruption and the destruction of our environment in our Valley as I stand for truth, transparency and justice.”

    As I said at #90.. I ain’t going anywhere – there is a job to do to.

  19. Peter Bright

    April 18, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Helen Walne at #87 raises the issue of defamation in this matter and feels that this could make the situation much more frisky. Yes, I agree.

    Helen, I feel there’s a lot more than mere defamation involved down at the Huon Valley Council. What about fraud, too?

    Has anyone asked the state police to intervene and get to the truth of it [i]all[/i] and then prosecute [i]all[/i] of the malfeasants?

    [i][b]”Malfeasance[/b] is an affirmative act that is illegal or wrongful. In tort law it is distinct from misfeasance, which is an act that is not illegal but is improperly performed. It is also distinct from Nonfeasance, which is a failure to act that results in injury.”[/i]

    [i][b]”Misfeasance[/b] in public office is a cause of action in the civil courts of England and Wales and certain Commonwealth countries. It is an action against the holder of a public office, alleging in essence that the office-holder has misused or abused their power.”[/i]

    May I ask that if this [i]has[/i] been done, what was the outcome?

    It seems to me that this whole matter reeks of greed, malice, fraud, coverups, cruelty and wrongdoing at all levels including political.

  20. Geoffrey Swan

    April 18, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    #87 Am I reading between the lines here Helen when you mention defamation.

    Maybe you read the news article about me in the Mercury on Saturday republished in the Herald Sun.


    If this malicious and evil attack on me is the price for being outspoken and sticking your neck out over the many issues alive and well in this Valley because of my very public comments about the HVC, Mike Wilson, Ian Paul, Pav Ruzicka, Petar Johnson, Mick Newell, Huon Aquaculture,the EPA and Frances Bender to name a few..then bring it on.. I ain’t going anywhere soon…

    We do need more action from the HVRRA. And we do need new blood to stand up for HVC elections. And we do need to fully support good people like Peter Coad. And we must do everything in our means to be sure the previous members of the HotH don’t have an inkling of a chance at the next elections – IMV.

  21. Trish Kyne

    April 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    “86… It is my understanding that the R.T.I. is not accepted unless it fulfills the requirements of the act/request?

    Having served the R.T.I. the refusal to comply was from the recipient; as was the recent much publicized refusal of Minister Gutwein to release documents that were apparently used in his decision making process.

    The only people privy to the process are those involved. So, regarding appeals and responses, in the case of the Mercury and the credit cards, you would have to ask them. The Mercury did publish follow-up articles about lack of cooperation etc but not a blow by blow description.

    There will be privacy concerns on all sides that can lead to other legal concerns.

  22. Geraldine Allan

    April 18, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    The RTI Act is specific; reasons must (not may) be provided for any non-disclosure. If the applicant is dissatisfied with reasons provided it is necessary to lodge an appeal and a further internal review happens.

    If that review simply rubber-stamps the original decision, which often is the case, then the act provides for an external review —Ombudsman’s FOI office.

    To my mind, it matters not what ‘uncomforatble’ issues are contained; unless the documents are protected within the guiding legislation, they must be provided.

    See where this goes.

  23. Helen Walne

    April 17, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Reference details noted in #86. Would this issue be something the Huon Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association might be chasing up? I hope so. Perhaps a defamation situation might be revealed and things could get a lot more lively. If there is a “protection” issue involved who would be the one, or two, being protected by its non-release?

  24. Geraldine Allan

    April 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    #85, thanks for that.

    Although you write in a general sense, I and probably others who have a far more critical interest than me, remain unaware of (i) what specific info was RTI requested, (ii) what precise reasons for refusal were provided (as must happen), (iii) if any refusal was appealed and, (iv) the outcome of any appeal?

    Until and unless a specific and informed request is submitted and the RTI process tested, there seems to me to be a possibility of accessing critical information being overlooked and/or bypassed.

  25. Trish Kyne

    April 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    #80 the Mercury did not get the information they asked for (as they had from a number of councils) regarding credit card expenditure.

    Huon Valley Council was renowned for either not giving the answer to the questions asked, or obfuscating. With the credit cards, reasons were given for non-compliance, with promises for future deliverance.

    Then at a later date the HVN’s ran information on each individual card that had been used for that year. The information was misleading as e.g. the information was written in such a way that it appeared that Peter Coad had blown their budget by exceeding his expenditure allocation….. However, as Peter Coad had stated at council meetings that he had never used his credit card, I wanted to know what the figures meant. Apparently, the cost of the mayoral car had been thrown into the mix, without any explanation.

    When limited card information was finally released, there was no forensic audit into the books – which is what the ratepayers want. The information released related to 4 cards, yet the information from within council was that there was something like 11 cards in use….

    I know of ministers who have submitted requests that have been denied. The Page Seager report is an example. As noted in Hansard, when questioning Minister Gutwein, the minister observed, ‘you have a copy?’ Ms Giddings said ‘Yes’. So other ministers were denied copies. But here in the valley Ms Giddings had one, as did Mick Newell, as did a number of business people (comments in an ABC interview); but not the ratepayers.

    With RTI regulations there are valid reasons for withholding information in some cases. The law has to anticipate all contingencies. This is especially true where children are involved; e.g. in one State anyone who has anything to do with children has to maintain their records until the child reaches their majority, plus 7 years. That applies e.g. to child health nurse, school nurses, teachers, community workers, social workers etc. The reasoning is the child has 7 years past the age of 18, to sue any practitioner that had mishandled anything to do with the child’s health or well being.

    There are also times when revealing information may compromise another person’s life. Without confidentiality in acquiring information to resolve e.g. criminal issues, or even information such as the B.O.I. collected, no one would ever talk.

  26. Peter Bright

    April 17, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Further to my #76 above I’ve just found this ..


    .. where this appears:


    The public and interested parties are invited to provide submissions upon the draft amendment Bill. [i]Submissions are to be made in writing to the Local Government Division and are due by 5.00 pm on the Friday 5 May 2017.[/i][/b]

    You can either send your submission by mail or email to the following addresses:

    by email to lgd@dpac.tas.gov.au ; or
    by post to

    [b]Attn: Targeted Review of the Local Government Act 1993[/b]

    Local Government Division
    Department of Premier and Cabinet
    GPO Box 123
    HOBART TAS 7001

  27. pat synge

    April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry about the typo.
    That link should have been: http://www.hvrra.weebly.com

  28. pat synge

    April 16, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    For those of you interested in improving governance in the Huon Valley I suggest you join the Huon Valley Residents & Ratepayers Association.

    HVRRA aims to promote: good governance, transparency and accountability within the Huon Valley Council, will lobby the state government when appropriate and advocate on behalf of residents on significant issues.

    Our intention is to work constructively and cooperatively with the Commissioner but we do not hesitate to question her on issues that we feel require clarification and take her to task if we feel that HVC is not behaving in a professional and transparent manner.

    As a member of the HVRRA you can contribute to positive outcomes for the entire community.

    For more information visit: http://www.hvvra.weebly.com

  29. Simon Warriner

    April 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    This issue is a compelling example of the dangers of bathing in the toxic carcinogen that is conflicted interest.

    It seems we have clear agreement across a wide range of positions that the RTI process is not delivering as it should. It seems that part of the reason for that is the manner in which it is legislated. It seems that those impeding it’s proper operation include those with their hands in the legislative mixing bowl.

    Based on that perception it is difficult to see how one can reasonably expect current legislators to deliver changes that would fix the problem, and given the nature of party politics on this island, how and party successors might be expected to either.

    The reluctance to reveal the true nature of the problems suggests something more akin to galloping knob rot than the odd festering sore, I think.

  30. Geraldine Allan

    April 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    My question(s) #78 — re your reference to RTI requests being, “palmed off with excuses” — were the excuses (decisions) challenged/appealed. If not, why not?

  31. Helen Walne

    April 16, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    #77 Peter – your comments are what we need to see developing on this site rather than all of us venting our spleen…me included. We’ve all had personal experience of poor treatment and dealings with HVC going back years. Duplicity in my case and outright disrespect and rudeness.

    There, that’s the last time I shall write in this vein.

    Of course there needs to be a meeting of the minds; documentation and exposure of all known (and unknown) misdemeanours; a strategy of action discussed as to how probity can be achieved. This is what I thought a community action group was going to achieve but it has not been the case.

    How can a meeting be called and conducted in the open with a guarantee it won’t be disrupted and turned into a mellee. Surely there must be a pathway for this to happen. The community doesn’t need hidden agendas and manipulation within our council – it’s time for the Huon to mature and move on from the incompetence and rubbish of the past, become sincere and have the well-being of the ratepayers addressed with integrity, decency and transparency.

    Anonymity has sadly been necessary for so many folk in order to speak up in the face of serious consequences and retribution – as I’ve said before, this vengeful behaviour smacks of recalcitrant immature children. The whole community needs to be mature and turn away from all of that.
    As Peter has said, perhaps the community has got what it deserved…..it certainly got what it voted for but this can be a lesson learned and a more mature vote could change things for the good.

  32. Trish Kyne

    April 16, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Regarding R.T.I. requests.

    H.V.C. has had requests from the Mercury, and an opposition member of parliament, which were palmed off with excuses. Some was to do with the credit cards. I know if R.T.I’s that have been ignored by individual ministers, e.g. the famed Page Seager report.

    There are formats/guidelines for petitions to be presented to Parliament. If the guideline is not adhered to the petition gets dumped.

    The thing about E-petitions, is that the public can have their say, and if they choose, can still keep their identity secret until the final petition is handed to parliament.

    There are people who believe in the end result of the petition, but have no desire to become the target of friends, family or bullies who disagree with their point of view.

    However, in this day and age, E-petitions also provide a platform for the population to have their say published and commented on, generating wider community interest.

    In political circles,this open discussion on festering sores can be more damaging than a signed list of names – even if it never gets presented to the intended group.

    Public opinion equates to votes, or lack there of.

  33. Peter Bright

    April 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Geraldine Allen at #74 has considerately provided us with a link which opens to reveal more important links here:


    I have been pondering methods to begin this matter’s entire restorative process such that the causes of wrongs and their perpetrators are identified and inescapable penalties inflicted with the proceeds allocated to the better welfare of he whose destruction they sought.

    But then I wondered if the Huon community deserves any better than what they’ve got because it seems to me that The Great Tasmanian Ennui has it firmly in its near statewide grasp.

    The horrible events being exposed on Tasmanian Times should have provoked local community rage, but all I detect are the quiet resolutions of a few truly good concerned souls to help restore fairness and justice in ways yet to be determined.

    My first thought was to place an e-Petition on our Parliament’s own website but examination of past signatures there, and what became of them, indicates that Parliament can ignore the lot.

    We have a state Liberal government (a hideous electoral mistake in my opinion) which, I believe, has effectively sided with Huon council’s miscreants to conceal the truth and which, in the Liberals’ usual biased and now predictable way, will make a Parliamentary petition’s rejection predictable no matter how many signatures are placed thereon.

    Petitions on social media could be tried although I have little respect for social media.

    Perhaps the first step in the restorative process is for sincere citizens to consult privately and devise the best strategy that intelligent and caring people can possibly conceive.

    We concerned citizens know what should be done but we don’t yet know the best way to go about implementing it.

    I’m hoping this thread will continue and that more information and good ideas will be presented herein for discussion, but for the moment I am at a complete loss in knowing what to do for the best.

  34. Peter Bright

    April 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    At http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-23/motion-to-gag-huon-valley-councillors-speaking-publicly-inquiry/6798884 the words hereunder of former Glamorgan Spring Bay Mayor Mr Michael Kent seem prophetic for what’s occurred at the Huon Valley Council:

    [i]Glamorgan Spring Bay Council is being scrutinised by Director of Local Government Phillip Hoysted, following several confidential complaints relating to significant governance and operational issues.

    The investigation will be released to the council within the next four weeks.

    [b]Mayor Michael Kent, formerly a successful businessman, called for urgent reform of the Local Government Act.

    “I think it’s paramount, I think it’s urgent,” he said.

    “There’s a fair bit of structural change that needs to happen to the powers of the general manager, the powers of the mayor, the powers of the councillors.[/b]

    “I think they’re archaic to say the least.”

    Alderman Kent said he was one of many on the council who wanted change.

    “(We have) four or five new councillors and of course they’re eager and keen to get on and do what they can for the municipality and they want some of the issues of the past cleaned up so that we can pretty much start afresh,” he said.[/i]

  35. Robin Charles Halton

    April 15, 2017 at 8:52 am

    #74, Ratepayers should be entitled to RTI on individual expenditures, costings and justifications of council inspired projects as well as the findings of Commissioners’ Taylor and Smith.

    Public transparency must be a part of the investigative process, ratepayers need to know where the wastage has occurred, naming individual elected alderman as hundreds of thousands of dollars is already being expended on the investigation alone.

    Minister Gutwein will find concerned ratepayers will need answers which in fact may determine who is re electable and who isnt as well as setting stronger future guidelines for responsible operation of local government for their managers as a whole!

  36. Geraldine Allan

    April 14, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Firstly I declare I have no interest in the municipalities involved in discussion.

    Seondly, having read all posts #1-73, what jumps out at me is the justified desire for and requirement of, more information relevant to several matters in dispute.

    Perusal of comments (excepting #62 in another context) shows me that nobody has mentioned accessing documents via Right to Information (RTI).

    Now I know that even though the RTI Act http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/tas/consol_act/rtia2009234/ was amended in 2009, those who suspiciously seek to avoid transparency still seem to wrangle a way around proper provision as is (supposed to be) the intent of the Act.

    Finally Imho, if an application has not yet been submitted, it would be a useful start by someone who has knowledge of how best to avoid refusal of provision, based on shaky grounds.

  37. Gerrya

    April 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Seems to me that rates should be spent on community services, roads and the like. Not servicing egos.

    What total cost to date with poor investment, legal advice (PS), the cost of the enquiry and who knows what else?

  38. Trish Kyne

    April 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Mr Wilson has a letter in today’s Mercury – I think it is worthy of numerous responses……interestingly he didn’t mention the cost of the BOI in his musings. Neither did he mention who was on the governance committee that approved, and then re-approved the GM’s contractual employment arrangements…. which were commenced under Robert Armstrong’s reign.

    I agree with many of the sentiments in the latest comments. I would also like to point out that Peter Coad was not invited to Robert Armstrong’s ‘welcome’ shindig. However, as the photos in the HVN prove, former councillors were in attendance. I believe that speaks volumes for the attitude of many of the previous councillors. The public snub underlined all that has followed.

    Then the many ‘photo opportunities’ published in the HVN’s, depicting the former Mayor Armstrong, and the former councillors, smiling and cutting ribbons. The whispered message to the public was that Peter Coad was not interested in the community. Can’t attend something you are not told about….

    Under the LGA, the spokesman for the council is the mayor. And that has been the sticking point.

    The vested interests did not get the mayor they wanted. Lets hope that is a recurring theme!

  39. Helen Walne

    April 13, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    #70 That’s what badly brought-up children do when they lose. Goes back down the line to the parenting – poor leadership, no manners, dysfunctional families!

  40. Bob Hawkins

    April 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    #69. It is also worth noting that, when Peter Coad won the mayoral contest in October 2014, neither his main contender, Mike Wilson, nor the outgoing longtime HVC mayor, Robert Armstrong, congratulated Coad on his victory.

  41. Bob Hawkins

    April 12, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    If LG Minister Gutwein is sending a bill for his inquiry into Huon Valley Council, I believe he should be addressing it to ex-councillor Mike Wilson, who, I believe was the main contributor to the chaos at HVC that led to Gutwein deciding on sacking the council and inquiring into its behaviour. If, in the best interests of sensible local government in the Huon Valley, Wilson had accepted gracefully his defeat at the hands of Peter Coad in the contest for the mayor’s job, and he had then offered to co-operate in a friendly fashion with his ever-respectful conqueror, there would have been no need for Gutwein to intervene.

  42. Robin Charles Halton

    April 12, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    #67 Glenorchy seems to suffer complete dimwits who Commissioner Smith appears to be sorting out the council management and is expected to complete the task of restructure within the next two months.

    Mayor Kristie Johnson will hopefully see the bogan element flee and attract a few new faces who are INTELLIGENT and are prepared to work as a team.

    Unfortunately the flow on effects of the Board of Inquiry is believed to be in the order of $650,000 and their work is not completed yet!

    Not so sure about some of the self serving councillors on the Huon Council who are pretty cunning along with their local business interests and could be hard to replace!

  43. Peter Bright

    April 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    My escalating impression is that unscrupulous persons with selfish business interests manoeuvre themselves onto councils in order to influence council decisions into favouring those business interests.

    This brings them into conflict with councillors who are in those posts for the right reasons.

    Then there’s trouble, and plenty of it.

    Is this the root cause of war in the Huon and Glenorchy councils?

  44. gerrya

    April 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Huon Valley Council has received a $336,000 bill from Treasury for the board of inquiry into the council, which was completed last year. (Mercury 13/4/2017).

    Adding ~ $40k will make little difference, perhaps?

    However, add the cost of advice to GM and HoH and…

  45. Robin Charles Halton

    April 9, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Correction: re amalgamation.
    According to News.com.au October 7th 2016:

    ” When asked if she would consider committing to amalgamation studies with Kingborough Council, Ms Tayor said she had been told by Minister Gutwein that amalgamation was not an option for the next year”.

    It sounds if the government is dragging its feet when former Mayor Peter Coad had indicated twelve months ago that there should be an approach made to start talks with Kingborough.
    At the time I think this was dismissed by the majority of HVC councillors.

    It seems to me that Mr Coad had more idea of achieving future direction than the Minister himself.

    My view is if the opportunity for advancement does not take place during the current term of the Liberal government, they may lose government, most definitely it will look shaky for Mr Gutwein if he does not achieve reasonable resolve by early 2018 with a State election year coming up.

    Mr Gutwein must solve the council issues for Glenorchy and Huon, which includes advancement towards Kingborough council amalgamation and particularly those supporting a Greater Hobart Council as well as the TasWater storm.

    Mr Coad is to be commended for his initiative, it is yet to be seen if Ms Taylor can solve the HVC disputations as her hands seem to be tied by Mr Gutwein!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Robin Charles Halton

    April 8, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Sunday Mercury April 9th report, pge 13 for those interested enough to know more about local government waste that has been created through aldermanic incompetence.

    “Fresh Huon, Glenorchy elections a $250K burden”
    “High cost of council polls”

    Basically: The Minister Peter Gutwein has to decide later this year whether or not the two communities will go back to the polls BEFORE the state’s next scheduled local government elections in October 2018.

    Residents in both areas are growing edgy that they have no elected representation as major issues like amalgamation and the Tas Water takeover simmer with some demanding fresh elections asap!

    Glenorchy’s 32,000 voters and Huon’s 12,000 could expect to foot a combined bill of $246,000 for a poll outside the regular four yearly cycle.

    Opinions vary as to whether an early electio would mean voters returning to the polls again next year, or the councillors terms would be extended.

    I was not aware of this till I read this article, but the final decision on whether to sack the Glenorchy Council could be months away with a lengthy process to follow the completion of the board of inquiry report.

    So it is the case HVC is sacked and Glenorchy is set in limbo by being left suspension.

    Dos’nt it say a lot for the councillors who cant work together, councillors meetings becoming hatred sessions the voters are guinea pigs, its nor good enough.

    My personal opinion is that both of these bastard councils should be immediately amalgamated with their larger and more competent neighour.

    In the case of Glenorchy, Suzie the Mayor of Hobart would not tolerate the childish nonsense that has been taken place in Glenorchy, no way!

    As Huon remains as the southern most satellite of the area south of Hobart, Commissioner Taylor must insist on amalgamation with Kingborough, any other decision will leave Huon in a state of distaste as the same old rebels do nothing to improve the circumstances that they have brought on themselves.

    By god that would be a relief to all of us, the rate payer, the tax payer and of course for Minister Gutwein to at least complete the exercise properly for the two regions in dispute.

  47. Helping

    April 8, 2017 at 1:12 am

    Does Mr Coad have a GoFundeMe page?

  48. Robin Charles Halton

    April 8, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Councils, who loves them and all of the scheming that goes on!
    Even Taylor’s past nest egg hit the Mercury News this morning!

    Glenorchy’s City Council staff spent $172,000 on council credit cards over 8 months June 28th 2016 till Feb 28th 2017.
    Splurged on alcohol, resturants, flights and groceries!
    Rights to Information documents show chauffer driven cars, party supplies, Darwin harbour cruises, University of Southern Queensland student finance and medical bills.

    Suspended Mayor Kristie Johnson is concerned about the (ab)use of credit cards is hopeful the Board of Inquiry would uncover concerns, as Credit card use needs the signature of the “various” Council Managers!

    One would wonder what the aldermaniacs would know about what is going on with ratepayers money being abused as slush funds!!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. Robin Charles Halton

    April 6, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Yeh I’ve heard enough about Mayor Coad no doubt he is the better choice of the two or three contestants in the seat of Huon Council.

    So he has been rejected of compensation by Taylor who is being “ever so careful” with HVC funds and not wanting to scare the voters off Mr Coad at forthcoming elections, whenever that may be!

    Thats life mate, a mixed bag of bastardary, thats everywhere ripe among all levels of government, as legal eagles swoop on misfortunes of those stuck in the middle whether ok or staged.

    Ms Watson’s remuneration took place under the guise of a generous contract arrangement which outpoured councils funding supporting a ridiculous scheme disguised as Contract of Employment where she would have left the HVC circus laughing!

    I dont know where Taylor is taking it all now, she just might be lucky and collar change but it is looking highly unlikely as her immediate superior Peter Gutwein is having hells bells of a time fighting Taswater one one hand and the Councils who want their dividends, stuff those caught in the middle with dirty water supplies and antiquated sewerage works!

    Hobart City Council has diverted its attention to changing Australia Day the federal government has flatly rejected any change at this point in time, and so it should!

    Councils need to concentrate on the big issues of population growth as Kingborough is or should be doing! by which ever way you look at it, Huon needs to be amalgamated to coexist as a formidable council, one that has clout across the board instead of Taylor who seems to be playing Mother Goose with its “inward thinking personalities” problems.

    Good luck to Peter Coad from my knowledge he would be a worthy addition as a counciller for the southern wards of a greater Kingborough-Huon Council.

    The Mother Goose stuff stops with the amalgamation ploy to set the future scene for the Southern Region with one strong foward thinking council deserving of funding for worthwhile things that councils should be providing for their ratepayers and communities.

    Sorry about the lecture but a good kick in the pants does not hurt now and again to instill some sense of worth for the feet dragging game councils are playing with Sate government and vicey verka.

  50. William Boeder

    April 5, 2017 at 5:11 am

    #53, Peter Bright you are a man that can motivate the best of responses when it comes to pursuing the sought for outcomes for a person that has been forced to suffer the indignity of pernicious insinuation directed upon the now beleaguered ex HCV Mayor Mr Peter Coad.
    The tyranny of a cluster of self-righteous persons forever bowed and or held obsequious before unprincipled and negligent others (those other that had weaselled themselves into higher public office) need not be tolerated any longer by the people of the Huon Valley, nor the greater number of people in Tasmania.
    Someway or another the truth relating to this “scathing personal broadside” so delivered by the above-mentioned pernicious others, will in all likelihood now be locked in some hidden impregnable vault.
    Relief from the tyranny of the insolent and pernicious others that had created this outrageous trespass on the good character of Peter Coad,will in the soonest be put to a petition shared across Australia.

  51. Geoffrey Swan

    April 4, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    #58 IMV the Valley cannot move on until the reasons for the dysfunctional council are out in the open.

    My take on this whole mess is there were, and still are, persons working very hard to stop the Mayor and any others from looking under rocks and asking questions. Questions that we Ratepayers have been asking for a long time and we are entitled to know the answers.

    IMV the BOI has so far failed to deliver. The installation of Commissioner Taylor has been, IMV, an attempt to calm the Valley and deflect any more media attention. I am of the view the BOI is being buried with inane comments as actions and the very real risk is our new Council will be a repeat of the old.

    In “joining the dots” I am very suspicious about who actually pulled the contents of the Page Seager report together, and therefore my reasons to simply advise others as to the current whereabouts of the former GM who had a part to play in these report(s).

    I do agree Ms Watson is now a free agent so to speak and her current job is none of my concern – but that does not mean history need be wiped as there are still many more questions than answers at this time.

    And again this all leads back to the point of this article from Bob Hawkins – the popularly elected Mayor acted for the people. Mayor Coad had his hands tied behind his back from day one. He was blocked at every pass by the HotH mob. The other wannabe Mayor was outright rude and conniving IMV and added further insult by illegally parking in the Mayor’s car parking space. Mayor Coad appeared to receive very little assistance from the GM.

    Frankly, anyone less skilled or committed would have given in far sooner. Mayor Coad pushed on despite the adversity, the body tackles and the corrupt attempts to blindside him with secret meetings. And to boot – he is out of pocket a lot more money than many of us can afford to lose.

    I personally sat alongside two HotH Councillors in a local café, before they knew who I was by sight, and over a 30 minute period I overheard a discussion that at the time was very interesting. Only after “joining the dots” later did I realise the questionable intent of that meeting and wished I had pressed record on my mobile phone.

  52. Shane Johnson

    April 4, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    The Commissioner moved decisively and terminated the contract of the previous GM. The decision was made so that the valley might ‘move on’.
    It was a good decision but it involved a significant cost to the budget (a figure approaching $200,000).
    The payment of $40,000 to the former mayor for his legal costs would also be a hit to the budget but it would be a positive milestone in the continued reform for the Council.
    The argument that the mayor was not an employee of Council and was acting in a personal capacity is, in my view, nonsense.
    Was the Mayor insured under Council’s policy for all of its employees, was his salary/superannuation paid by Council or was he deemed to be a sub-contractor? It would be interesting to get the ATO’s take on the Mayor’s employee status.
    There was also never any prospect that the Mayor would receive a financial or other personal benefit from obtaining his legal advice.
    If it is Council’s legal advice that the Mayor and Councillors are not employees then that advice should be released to the public.
    Re. the former GM, it is now absolutely none of our business what she does in a private capacity.

  53. Geoffrey Swan

    April 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    #55 I have no axe to grind at all Mr Rubble.

    As I have repeatedly stated – I am merely seeking truth, transparency and justice. Mr Coad is not my “mate” but he is someone who I am prepared to stand up for given the very visible injustice he has endured.

    And where I see such malicious actions against anyone, I am prepared to stand up… and I am prepared to provide my name and not hide behind a silly pseudonym.

    Yes there is a fund set up into which locals who have the wherewithal in our Community have put in some funds.

    It is my understanding Mr Coad is more out of pocket than what is being broadcast and in no way should he be spending his own hard earned for doing such a good job on behalf of we citizens.

  54. Simon Warriner

    April 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

    re #55, One of the common feature of narcissistic behavior is the engaging of the victims in exactly the sort of no-win argument demonstrated in 55’s post, without ever conceding that they themselves are regularly guilty of similar acts, and often far worse. It’s called projection.

    Coad required legal advice as Mayor, but clearly was never going to get it while he lacked the majority in Council, and had the GM playing a very partisan role against him. In my view he will be well justified in taking legal action to recover the cost of that legal advice. I hope he wins.

    Meanwhile the mob you seem to be barracking for engaged legal practitioners to take minutes of a private meeting with no legal standing and the GM approved the cost. A cost the Commissioner, if she was being even handed, would be seeking to recover.

    And, yes, in this instance I do think the use of pseudonyms is rather gutless.

  55. Barley Rubble

    April 3, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    #50 who are to label me a coward? Well you opened the door so I am going to step in. You from what I read on this website have an axe to grind with this council and its topics like this that show you have a clouded judgement. You are so full of hate you choose which rules to follow and which to ignore. This mayor whether his intent was right or not chose to engage a lawyer outside of his authority to do so and claim vs the public purse. If it worries you so much why don’t you chip in or start a fundraising campaign instead of sitting back behind your keyboard firing shots at will.

    I wonder if the GM had a similar bill if you would treat it the same. Of course you wouldn’t, you are judge and jury and have decided that the people must pay for your mate.

  56. Beware the Banjos

    April 3, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    #47 – that’s some concerning stuff.

    From what I can see there are a lot of mainlanders arriving in southern Tasmania. Ever more traffic.

    Huon Valley needs a dose of salts.

  57. Peter Bright

    April 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Geoffrey Swan at #50 convincingly declares that Mr Coad should be recompensed.

    That’s just the start, Geoffrey.

    In my evaluation, handsome compensation for hurt and damage should swiftly follow, and an absolute clearing of his name from all wrongdoing, and community restoration and recognition of his rightful place as a highly principled and competent defender of the Huon community’s civil rights.

    I’d gladly sign a Petition to this effect.

  58. Trish Kyne

    April 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    The unseating and jailing of former Premier Brian Burke in Western Australia was achieved by a Crime Commission. A body that is separate from political interference, with wide ranging powers.
    A number of ‘high flyers’ were also nabbed in their nets.

    On his release from jail, Burke pronounced himself a lobbyist.
    Word went out to government departments and ministers that contact with Burke would bring swift and severe consequences.
    Many public servants and ministers who ignored the warning, lost their jobs through contact because the emails and phones were still bugged……….. and denial was not an excuse.

  59. Robin Charles Halton

    April 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    More Council tripe on the table as the detached bleating Greens on the Hobart City Council are securing their self importance to divert important council business for changing Australia Day!

    Another costly and unwanted distraction for the HCC who should be concentrating their efforts on engaging in serious debate about a city bypass road to cope with increasing residential development south of the city areas.

    A proper traffic plan is necessary as a must especially as the Mayor Sue Hickey is extremely keen to “clutter up” the waterfront areas and the CBD with tourism related activities as well as continue with developing University campuses.

    The latest information that I have, many students own cars, there is not enough car parking facilities in the city with the new facilities. Students are coming from rising affluent families, decent second hand cars are part and parcel of society where both personal safety and convenience for safety reasons as Hobart is no longer considered as a safe place especially for Asian students.

  60. Geoffrey Swan

    April 3, 2017 at 11:50 am

    #48 Dear Mr Rubble – another coward (IMV) hiding behind a pseudonym. (I note there are moves in some blog sites to no longer allow false names…bring it on Editor).

    I am making it my business because TT is a forum that allows one and all to provide commentary. The shenanigans of the Huon Valley Council have been very well documented over the years by avid reporter Mr Bob Hawkins – and thank goodness for that. It also means we have a historical record on file – very useful to “join the dots” indeed.

    I am making it my business because perhaps unlike yourself I personally witnessed the deplorable going on at the Council meetings. I observed the vile behaviour (IMV) of Ms Watson’s dialogue and attitude towards former Mayor Coad.

    Mayor Coad stood up against the machinations of the HotH mob and he has my admiration because of his unfaltering display of honesty and transparency. Unfortunately the GM’s actions more often than not (IMV) placed her fairly and squarely in the same hostile Mike Wilson HotH camp.

    The very close relationships between some of the now sacked Councillors, Ms Watson and with some leading players in the Community, is I suggest of great interest and concern to we residents and ratepayers who are demanding truth, transparency and justice.

    If you read the minutes of past meetings, or listen to the audio recordings on the HVC website you will soon realise Peter Coad in his community role of Mayor was forced to seek legal counsel to protect the role of Mayor.

    And for that he must be recompensed.

  61. William Boeder

    April 3, 2017 at 5:36 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with all the comments submitted to this article matter given the serious malfunctions and maladministration’s allowed by their creators to merrily roll along their lazy way in Tasmania.
    Although on reflection, the Federal Liberals have already lowered the tone of a leadership government in this country of ours (not theirs exclusively) for accepting an out of Australia potential minister (via the arrival then the acceptance of the Beast from Belgium.)
    This now foe of the Australian people, (the current Liberal party Finance minister) bearing the name of Mathias Cormann, who had subsequent upon his arrival, added to his quantum of personal discredits, by his renouncing the call for a Royal Commission (from the select “Senate Inquiry Board” that was especially set up to inquire into and examine the many alleged dubious undertakings) specific to the CBA Bank.
    This being in despite of the well respected Senators appointed who had unanimously agreed that a Royal Commission be initiated into the alleged devious dealings associated with both the executive board and upper level management of Australia’s recalcitrant code-breaching Commonwealth Bank.

    (As have been so many and various allegations published by media entities in this country. See link below.)

    So Peter, I cannot entirely support your opinion that an overseas originating skunk could be elected to a position of powerful influence in this State of Tasmania, though the rest of your comment is certainly valid.

  62. Barley Rubble

    April 3, 2017 at 1:07 am

    #43 and so what if she is working locally, how is this your business? She is a lawyer after all. Mike Wilson lauded many local businesses and now you call him out on this one. Only the desperate can connect dots here.

    Now to the topic.

    So let me get this right. The same group who whinge and moan about council investing public money in a dubious investment now want the commissioner to waste 40k on a man who went outside the rules and racked up a significant bill?

    Oh boy………..

  63. Geoffrey Swan

    April 3, 2017 at 12:50 am

    #43 I just remembered – Tierney Law are our Lawyers. They hold our wills and they did the conveyancing of our house purchase – what we did not know until later was the same firm also represented the vendor.

    Being a “blow in” I thought this must just the way it is done in Tasmania and we went with the flow.

    I do recall when I did raise it with the person (Karen) at the time she said she sits in a different office to the person representing the vendor.

    And then more recently when 28 of our domestic Geese were shot, killed and maimed on two separate occasions, and I needed to involve the local Police (there in is another story) and then a few visits to the Magistrates Court… when I tried to get representation from the two local Huonville Legal firms I could not because the “baddies” were clients of both firms. I then tried two more firms in Hobart and had the same problem.

    Finally found a firm that did not represent the “baddies” but after all the anxiety, the cost and effort (and a heart attack) the Magistrate made three profound statements during the Court hearing(s):

    “Sounds like a case of Midsommer Murders”

    “Reminds me why I will not retire into rural Tasmania”

    And “Mr Swan.. you look like a man of substance (I was wearing a suit, I am overweight, I am educated but I am not wealthy).. unless you have a photo of this person with a dead goose over one shoulder, a shotgun in the other hand and he is smiling at the camera – please do not waste any more of my time or your money…

    Yep.. it’s a small world we live in down here!!

    Deliverance comes to mind.

  64. Peter Bright

    April 3, 2017 at 12:07 am

    TV Resident bemoans the incestuous business intrigues that characterise Tasmania’s many confict of interest matters, and he’s quite right to do so.

    I’ve known for decades that the Tasmanian gene pool is this nation’s most inferior, and so I support TV Resident’s call to accept outsiders to clean the place up. He suggests one source of people as being mainland Australia but I’d open it to include capable people from overseas as well.

    These Tasmanian Times’ columns are heavily loaded with numerous wails about the way the Tasmanian forestry industry pongs with ineptitude and corruption and so I’d suggest eradication of the local mob with its replacement, especially at the higher levels, by overseas talent, for example from England and Canada.

  65. William Boeder

    April 2, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    #43. Interesting to note that this subject matter is providing more factual remarks and or claims of fact, in essence this tells the story of “build upon the rocks and not upon the sand” as this appears to be the base that supports the contretemps by each of those that have overlooked their starring role among the alleged motley of conspiracy tainted ne’er-do-wells, those that are further alleged to be as genuine as a six dollar bank-note.
    The entire process from go to the now problematic
    present stage of this State government involved Local HCV Council imbroglio, has indeed left a scattering of repellent faeces clinging to the halls of the HCV pantheon.
    Look ye in vain for the probity and integrity underlying the sinister contretemps of those who have leapt upon the lamest of horses to aid them in their chasing out of sight, the irritating reminder of “not to be too niggardly restrictive when the truth is called to come forward.”
    *Oh what a tangled web they weave ….when first they practice to deceive.
    (*Not too much altered from the ever-green quote of Sir Walter Scott.)
    The integrity and bona fide undertakings by this State’s government ministers are nowhere to be found, unless they are hidden amongst the collusive conducted seditions hurled upon their superiors (the solid body of Tasmania’s citizens) what good can be found in this State’s self proffered offering of individuals currently sheltering beneath their quasi-party political banner?

  66. TV Resident

    April 2, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    It is way past time to bring in a totally independent ICAC. Friends and families recommending friends and families for top jobs seems to be the normal in Tasmania. Gov’t ministers, from all levels of gov’t, bowing down for developers and big business for any price also seems to be normal in Tasmania. My personal opinion is that the gene pool is way too narrow. It’s time to accept people who are non relatives and possibly from the mainland to stand for politics, all levels’ in this state. I believe this is the only way ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘nepotism’ can be in any way beaten.

  67. Geoffrey Swan

    April 2, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Whilst there are no updates as yet on their website… I have it on good advice that ex General Manager Simone Watson and good friend of Tim Tierney, has landed a job with local Main Street law firm Tierney Law.

    And a glance back at the Huon Valley News 13 July 2016 reveals one of the regular Mike Wilson “Economic Driver” ads promoting Tierney Law as “Our leading local law firm”.

  68. Helen Walne

    April 2, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    There is always a paper trail involved in most things and a forensic audit of the whole Page Seager process including who recommended them; who advised them; who provided them with details and who signed off on it within Council. These details may reveal a few more players in the pot than we already know about. Someone is holding the strings very tightly. Sooner or later it will all have to be revealed, whether it’s done now as part of the clean-up of the mess or later by a brave whistle-blower in a protected situation.

  69. Robin Charles Halton

    April 2, 2017 at 2:22 am

    #37 and #38, I would be asking the same question, its looking like a “Fossa” where the Brighton Council dont have to disclose certain elements of council business their ratepayers who should not even “dare to poke their grubby noses” into internal council business anyway!

    I noted the Mercury article “Car wrecks putting river health at risk”, now adding to the Weld River as a dumping ground in addition to the pollution of the Russell River by fish waste then for those who care about the environment its places the responsibility of the HVC to act as well as explaining to their ratepayers the $54,000 question.

    The Ex Mayor Peter Coad payment is the relatively easy for Commissioner Taylor as it should be determined by the Supreme Court for the judges to decide the legalities behind Mr Coad’s claim!

    Local government Minister Peter Gutwein is himself under siege by TasWater as well as with the MLC’s over his failing to disclose the proposed sale of the gas fired power station “as the southern States including Tasmania face ongoing power shortages”!

    Local government is coming under more siege, so far only HVC and GCC have fallen foul, but reasonable and agreeable resolutions may not be possible even with the pressure of State elections due next year.

    My confidence is waning rapidly through the entire spectra of government and their unsolvable political correctness as I am hoping it wont last beyond this term of government at all levels!

    Probably I am hoping to much, as the expensive process of political correctness is here to stay and to kill us off by stealth if necessary!

  70. Treeger

    April 2, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Despite Coad standing on good governance and transparency, as well as a multi million dollar forest centre, he was up against those who would continue destroying wild nature and who have allies on a State and Fed level (lets not forget millions of dollars have only recently been moved from Aurora to Forestry) Trees and animals have no vote, us humans have to decide whether we stop at boundaries in the Huon and other such places, or whether we let other natural forces continue……..Treeger

  71. Trish Kyne

    April 2, 2017 at 12:53 am

    #38 Correct. Having a law firm act for an employee as well as the employer creates a conflict of interest between employer and employee. If the employee is in a position of seniority, they may also be in a position which provides an opportunity …

    37# 3. from the shenanigans at the time, the mayor was not consulted. If you recall, there was a meeting to discuss the council’s report, (as recorded in the disgusting 7HoFm program). The then mayor adjourned the meeting to read the report and take legal advice. This was widely presented to the public as the mayor walking out…. as if he had done something illegal. The lie was repeated by news outlets.

    Interestingly, the radio station replayed Mick Newell’s accusations on-air throughout the day in their pod casts, without repeating the mayor’s explanations. Truth does not make for good ratings.


  72. Bob Hawkins

    April 1, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    #33. I read #30 as saying council was conflicted, not the law firm. I seem to recall evidence that indicated the 50-or-so-page report was delivered to council, at a cost $54,000, within a day or two of its being commissioned. Fast work. Sumfin funny somewhere!!!!

  73. Geoffrey Swan

    April 1, 2017 at 11:34 am

    #36 Are you alluding to something John but unable to say any more…

    At the HVC Feb 22 meeting I asked HVC will they release the Page Seager report and what is the outcome of the Police investigation into the Mick Newell 7H0FM leaked report.

    I needed to wait a further 5 weeks for an answer since it was taken on notice.

    March 29 and the answer was no… we will not be releasing the report(s) – there are two, and the Police declined to investigate. Waiting for the audio transcript since there was a long explanation around all this.

    Me… I smell a rat. More interested in the Page Seager involvement than the content of the reports.

    My questions, again on notice, at March 29 meeting were:

    1. Can Council please advise who commissioned and authorised Page Seager to provide a legal report to Council and the date of that commissioning?

    2. On what date was this report received by Council and/or Council management?

    3. Was the Mayor consulted by Page Seager in the preparation of the report?

  74. john hayward

    March 31, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Have any readers had any professional dealings with Page Seager?

    I did, briefly, some years ago.

    John Hayward

  75. Betty

    March 31, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Just check out all Brighton Council legal expenses the Mayor approves …


  76. Simon Warriner

    March 31, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    re 30, Trish, I suggest you read what Evan Whitton …


    … has to say in his history of English Law, as posted in part on this site in various articles. Facts are not really lawyers stock in trade in this nation, or this state, it seems. managing others perceptions of what facts are, whose facts matter, and whether facts are, in fact, fact is more what they are about, especially in matters such as the ones being discussed.

    As for Page Seager’s interests being conflicted, not really. They were instructed to perform a task, which they apparently did. (I say apparently because until the report is produced it remains a moot point). The question is really about whether those giving the instructions had any legal right to give the instructions and whether the GM had any right, legal or otherwise, to pay for the services provided.

    It sucks, but you really must keep the argument on the court, so to speak.

    re 32, a bit like vampires and daylight, perhaps.

  77. John Hawkins

    March 30, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Mayor Coad has brought down upon himself the Wrath of the Cronies – a constant fact of life under Tas Inc.

    The criminal elements of our society controlling our logging, planning, and fishing industries have an inbuilt fear of a competent Independent Commission Against Corruption.

    Hall and Wilkinson – who led the Committee to set up such a body – ensured that poor old Tasmania received the toothless pussy cat alternative that now serves us so badly.

    The bent and compromised all heaved a collective sigh of relief and life in this beautiful place continues as normal.

    Why is it that so much is owed or gifted by so many to so few?

  78. MJF

    March 30, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks Geoffrey for comprehensive update.
    Fair to say a bit of a rift has developed but not much else (at least publically).

  79. Trish Kyne

    March 30, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    # 26 Spot on.
    In addition it appears that the same legal firm used by council was also used to produce the withheld Page Seager report. Another conflict of interest.

    Considering the Page Seager report was apparently produced in a short space of time, without the benefit of submissions or interviews that the BOI report was based on, it is likely to have been purely a backside covering exercise for those singled out for attention by the BOI. How could a legal firm produce such a document without the benefit of facts? So the question is – who supplied the data produced by the law firm.

  80. Geoffrey Swan

    March 30, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    #18 Part 2:
    In response a Friday night email from Mr Petar Johnson December 16th 2016
    “Dear Geoffrey,
    – See more at: http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/huon-council-short-shrifts-former-mayors-plea-to-pay-his-legal-costs/show_comments#sthash.4h6IuqMN.dpuf

    It is disaapointing (sic) to recieve (sic) your email. but you have been a most rude and unconsciounable (sic) peson (sic) to date. please do not attend further meetings until you can satisfy me that you do not breach moral standards on vulnerable individuals in the huon valley. To date i am not satisfied you are a fit and proper person for our organisation noting your interest in nude panting (sic) and your general demeanor. (sic) II (sic) you attend i will seek your removal. Before i change this policy i request that you provide me with a criminal history check and independent assurance that you do not take unfair advantage from the low socio economic individuals in the valley. in view of your most precarious occupation it is most concerning to me to have assurance as to your integrity prior to any further communication with you.

    I am not accussing (sic) you of any criminal activity, but i am most concerned and seek independent assurance prior to any further ccommuication (sic) with you.

    With great concern

    Mr Petar Johnson
    Huon Citizens Council
    I of course responded, outlined the reasons for my comments about his promises that did not eventuate – and strongly defended my work as a professional artist.
    And then in no uncertain terms, Mr Petar Johnson let me have it .. both barrels.. (seems to be the way in the Valley)
    The UPPER CASE and spelling is how his email was sent to me.
    The Police check stuff relates to the fact he discovered I am an artist and I happen to specialise in painting the female nude. No problem with any of that – I was an artist in residence at the Salamanca Arts Centre for 18 months, I do have a website and I have painted and photographed the nude for the past 40 years.
    Email from Mr Petar Johnson December 20th 2016:
    Subject: Without prejudice. Cc apologies to those caught up in this exchange
    Please provide me with a criminal history check and an independent audit as to the legality of your use of other peoples bodies in order to apply to change our policy of excluding you from our work.


    The HCC is a private trust and not a public entity.

    You have now publically made extensive allegations over the course of 3 months with no evidence to support your allegations. With no basis to your accusations you have circulated false assertions to peers and important organisations in the Huon.
    MUCH OF WHAT YOU PRESENT AS FACT IS INDEED FICTION delivering ill repute to a worthwhile venture.

    We will at this time cease further communication with you.
    Mr petar johnson
    Huon citizens council
    So… not a lot more to report .. I guess let’s just watch this space for the HCC. I have heard reports Mr Petar Johnson has been involved in some planning matters and the purchasing of properties in the Huon – but nothing more than passing comment.

  81. Geoffrey Swan

    March 30, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    #18 MJF – full transcript of my communications with Mr Petar Johnson in the interests of transparency and for the TT record.
    The last word was December 20th 2016 and I have not seen any change to his HCC website since the day it was published. At his November meeting I suggested he remove the “angry” looking pic he has on his website (which he advised has been pulled from a web pic of a meeting in Canada) – but it is still there.
    In good faith I attended the inaugural HCC public meeting at which I counted some 10 residents who are connected with the HVRRA plus the Liberal Party chief in the valley Rob Thompson, ex-councillor Mike Wilson, a friendly guy from Castle Forbes Bay, and the two anti-bargers from Waterloo Bay.
    My email to Mr Petar Johnson December 15, 2016 reads:
    “Dear Mr Johnson
    In good faith I attended your inaugural Geeveston Meeting Friday November 25th and I stayed the full duration. I fully participated in questions and suggestions.

    To date I have been openly critical of the motives and secrecy behind the Huon Citizens Trust and of yourself at both the HVRRA and HCC meetings, and in the Tasmanian Times.
    I have given you the benefit of doubt though I continue to be very suspicious of your motives, and of other possible vested interests in your “plans”.

    I openly provided my email address and contact details at your recent meeting. You promised to summarise the “whiteboard” scribbles and to follow up with more details of your next stage and to come back to everyone within 7 days.

    It is now going on three weeks since your promise. I note there has been no activity on your website and there have been no updates to your website since it was launched. You have not bothered to email or phone me. You gave an impression of a “go ahead organisation” with great interest in all things Huon Valley.
    You were not present at the past two Huon Valley Council Meetings. You have still not shared or disclosed the details of the “other” interested parties in your Trust. I remain very suspicious that certain past sacked Councillors are a party to your plans
    I have publically referred to the Ernesto Sirolli experience in our Valley and I am concerned that we may in fact be seeing a repeat performance from yet another “snake oil salesman”. The last thing our Valley needs is more bluff and bluster from a “stranger” in a black suit and red tie. Truth and transparency must prevail and what I am seeing thus far is a long way from an open and commendable activity – in fact I consider an injustice is being done.
    Mr Johnson (AKA Ivanoski)… why are you not keeping to your promises and the grandiose expectations you are promoting? What are your true motives?
    I feel I have no option on behalf of the vulnerable citizens of our Valley to pursue your true objectives and to uncover the truth behind your supposed $180,000 investment in this “trust” to bring openness, growth, opportunity and transparency to our Community.
    To date you have failed to demonstrate any leadership and in my view you have not earned the right to suggest you are acting on behalf of the citizens of the Huon Valley. I believe it is now time to share your story. It would be easier to ignore you and simply let the HCC fade away, but I am compelled to speak out. I have no allegiance with anyone or any “group” in the Huon Valley and I have no fear to speak out.
    I look forward to any comments you may like to offer or updates on the HCC at your earliest. I have provided my telephone number however I request any future communications with me be via email or Australia Post please.”

    cont …

  82. William Boeder

    March 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    A great deal of the entire HCV Council mischiefs could quite easily be traced back to a former omnipotent Mayor of the HCV.
    Unknown are the mischiefs and other mystery undertakings that flowed, or perhaps could still be in flow.
    Pleasing it is to read that a former stand-in General Manager has been let go by the present officials.
    Omnipotent persons do not take kindly to people of high character and integrity.

  83. Simon Warriner

    March 30, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    re 21, so the GM approved the expenses generated by a small group of councilors engaging a legal firm to take minutes of a “meeting requiring ‘legal secretarial representation’ was to observe a complaint against the mayor by the GM, “. Where I was educated and in most of the places I have been engaged in commercial life that would be regarded as a fairly huge conflict of interest on the GM’s part.

    Never mind the lack of any legal standing of the meeting in the first place. …

    As for Petar Johnson’s communication with Geoff Swan, am I the only one who smells the reek of rather overt religiosity skulking behind the moral outrage of painting the natural female form.


  84. Geoffrey Swan

    March 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    #25 let me reference a former TT article Helen.

    Mr Petar Johnson (previously known as Petar Ivanoski according to public records) announces himself from comment #33 onward.

    As you will read from my comments below, Mr Petar Johnson, IMV, has to date failed to deliver anything apart from a website and one public meeting. He has promised all sorts of things for the Valley, but to my understanding at least, nothing more has eventuated.

    Perhaps Mr Petar Johnson can update us all on TT sometime soon?


  85. Helen Walne

    March 30, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Will someone “please explain” – what is the Huon Citizens Council”?
    I believe I did write to a Petar Johnson late last year following an advertisement in the Huon News. I had enquired what the organisation represented but did not receive a reply.
    Is this something we should all be joining or taking an interest in? All their rhetoric is a little disconcerting and threatening. Why is this so?

  86. Trish Kyne

    March 30, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    gerrya – my understanding of the clause you quoted is that the Minister can charge the council for any costs incurred by the government.
    So the B.O.I. investigation costs could be charged to the H.V.C. The General Manager holds the purse strings for the rest of council disbursements. However, the former GM had a number of authorities delegated to that position by Robert Armstrong. The incoming council could have voted to take the reins again, but they didn’t do that. Hence all the power remained with the GM.

    The former GM underlined this when asked at council about the legal cost incurred by the B.O.I. The public wanted to know what costs the HVC had covered for individual council members. Her response was there had not been any costs; Gallery Gasped at the audacity of what appeared to be a lie. The legal interpretation was in fact the minister had not charged the council. So questions needed to be absolutely specific to gain the appropriate response.

    Regarding the problems we have witnessed in the defunct council, I think the only way to make a statement at this time is to respond to the Targeted review of the LGA. I believe the public needs to make a stand regarding issues of transparency and how councils act. I think one of the things that need to be pushed is that councils that have been sacked – are covered by a blanket rule preventing the sacked councillors re-standing for a minimum period of one term (4 years). At this point there is nothing outside of a personal criminal charge to prevent re-standing.
    I also question why the report regarding LGA reform that was handed down in September has been withheld until March for public comment, with responses due May 5th. The response time is fair in gaining widespread opinions. However, instead of being placed before Parliament in April as indicated in 2016 it will be held over until later in the year.

  87. gerrya

    March 30, 2017 at 9:50 am

    #17 Mike, they did and will hopefully do so again. However, MW & Co will probably revert to same old & the farce will continue. If MW wins, the farce will continue.

    Lose lose if the farce continues.

    Back to the question of Peter’s costs. Tasmanian Local Govt Act 1993 at 229, Cost of Inquiry states, The Minister may require a council to pay any costs associated with an inquiry into its affairs under this Part. Although highly unlikely, the Minister could require the Commissioner to make payment. And what might fly?

  88. Trish Kyne

    March 30, 2017 at 2:04 am

    The Commissioner’s assertion that she was unable to comment because she was not present at the decision making process is a cop-out. The L.G.A. regulations are quite clear, regardless of whether one is present or not. The mayor was not invited so there was no legal convening of a Governance committee.

    Considering the meeting requiring ‘legal secretarial representation’ was to observe a complaint against the mayor by the GM, I believe there are a number of questions that should be answered:

    • If there was a valid complaint against the then mayor, the situation described sounds more like a kangaroo court than a legitimate complaint process…
    • Convening the ‘Governance’ meeting without the mayor’s knowledge (in secrecy), demonstrates the councillors knowledge of the content of the GM’s complaint. Why? The Councillors role does not include being judge jury and executioner.
    • In covering the councillor’s legal costs, the general manager either had prior knowledge of the exclusive secret ‘governance’ meeting; or gave retrospective approval to pay the fees.

    These questions raise further issues. The L.G.A. is quite clear regarding the lines of council communication. Councillors’ communications are supposed to be with the mayor; operational staff communications are with the general manager. The mayor and the general manager therefore represent their respective ‘sides’.

    Technically the Commissioner is right. Peter Coad’s legal bills, as an elected official, were ‘not council business’. However, the costs were incurred navigating the manufactured situations he was placed in by a hostile council. As such, it was not ‘usual’ council business, but would never have been incurred if not council related. Peter Coad was doing the job the residents elected him to do: to bring the council into this century with honesty and transparency.

    The payment he received for this was having his character maligned in radio interviews and published articles. His comments at council were frequently misrepresented to the public. Newcomers to the valley are still being told that the councillors were meek little lambs that negotiated and made plans that the mayor vetoed at council meetings. I have referred the newcomers to council records of meetings. I have pointed out the mayor could not veto anything when the vote was 6 – 3 against him. In fact, when voted down, he was taunted to ‘show some leadership’ and to ‘be a man’.

    Peter Coad was bullied by a faction who placed their own ambitions above the needs of the community. He was targeted in numerous ways, which can be identified in public records.

    In refusing to pay Peter Coad’s legal fees, there is denial at the highest level of his commitment to the community, and the integrity he demonstrated as an elected official. It also demonstrates the ‘systems’ willingness to gloss over the personal injustices, by burying proof and hanging the messenger….. so long as they cover their own asses.

  89. Helen Walne

    March 30, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Paul Keating lamented years ago that Tasmania had a bunyip bureaucracy. I would love to know what he thinks of the place now – seriously devils’ island!
    In the face of such facts submitted by Messrs Hawkins, Hayward and Swan it’s amazing that the HVC Commissioner continues to dismiss their concerns and those of other petitioners. Peter Coad deserves to have his legal fees paid. Pleasant as she is, does the Commissioner really think independently?
    Paul was so right.

  90. Mark Temby

    March 29, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Pat and Gerrya re Summerleas intersection

    Absolutely correct assessments. I assume federal grants are being fed through consolidated revenues with a bit flowing through to the usual local road contractors around Kingborough.

    It tickled my funny bone to see reduced speed limits during construction. Gee, it might also work without the construction works. So much could be done on road safety with just a little leadership and political courage.

  91. MJF

    March 29, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Bob/Geoffrey/Trish K/any valley dwellers,

    What’s become of the Huon Citizens Council and Petar Johnson please ?

  92. mike seabrook

    March 29, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    let the ratepayers make the decision when they next vote.

    a lot of people wanna spend freely of the ratepayers money

  93. pat synge

    March 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Gerrya #4 I will follow you briefly on your detour.

    The simplest and by far the least expensive solution to the Summerleas Road issue would have been:
    • Prevent all traffic from Kingston turning right (they could join the Southern Outlet via the bypass )
    • Prevent all traffic from Huonville direction from turning right into Summerleas Road (they would have to go the very slightly extra distance into Kingston).
    • Turning left out of Summerleas Road onto the Huonville Road is not a problem
    • Reduce the speed limit to 60 to facilitate the crossing for those very few continuing along Summerleas Road.

    All sorted for the cost of the signage!

  94. Geoffrey Swan

    March 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    #13 Hello Anon.. I think I have seen a post from you before now. Thank you for speaking up.

    As a “blow-in” of some 9 years I still feel very much an outsider to all the affairs of Council, however my personal platform for change is based on truth, transparency and justice. In my own observations from the “outside” I was appalled at the shenanigans of the HotH mob, and what I have learned and continue to learn, both first hand and from others who have been prepared to share their stories – about Council management – right back to Armstrong and Cockerill days.

    As a believer that truth prevails I can only urge you to share more of your story. There is only so much we “outsiders” can assist with – we do need some whistle blowers to speak up – and I accept keeping your anonymity is important.

    As I have stated elsewhere, I am of the view the appointment of Commissioner Taylor is a political move “to pour oil on troubled waters”.

    I am in no doubt she is a good woman, skilled, knowledgeable, very hard working, committed and she is very pleasant.

    However the lack of preparedness so far to open old wounds in order to get to the bottom of the many issues that have plagued this Council in the past 15+ years or so is of great concern.

    The way it is all heading we may well see a repeat of the former Council dysfunction. IMV, given the ongoing blatant advertising by Mike Wilson I am sure we will see him duly elected by his blind faithful, if for no other reason than they recognise his mug shot on the billboards (even his latest ‘Rolf Harris’ graphic). And IMV he will have another bloc of followers close behind.

    Only by exposing the anecdotal corruption, the goings on behind the scenes, the real issues uncovered in the BOI, and by opening Pandora’s Box; will this Valley see any much needed change for the better.

    ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ Winston Churchill 1948 from Santayana.

  95. gerrya

    March 29, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Yet another good article and similarly good responses about this sorry state of affairs. I have seen many questions raised with one exception. Why the concerted efforts to discourage Peter Coad from running again? It cannot simply be a case of ensuring that Mike Wilson is elected? Wilson is. IMHO, but a puppet – who is the puppeteer?

    Bear with me while a detour from the question of discouraging Peter Coad, to asking questions about a well-traveled road – the Huon Highway. When crossing the Summerleas intersection, in both directions at least five days a week, the question of why once again arises. Why spend many millions to rectify an accident black spot when a set of traffic lights would apparently provide a more cost effective solution albeit increasing travel times to and from the valley. Research of publicly available information including the State Growth website produced some material that purports to support the expenditure with one exception – a defensible cost benefit analysis.

    Some discussions regarding the intersection have led a few to mention that increased housing development in the Kingborough region is a significant factor that I have countered by suggesting that the Kingston bypass ends near where most new development will occur, and that design of the Summerleas intersection appears to focus on fast effective movement of traffic to and from the Huon; at least until one reaches either the Southern Outlet or Huonville. A more likely scenario is increased access to resources – forestry, extractive industries, tourism, who knows?

    Peter Coad is recognised for his public stance on accountability, transparency and community consultation unlike most politicians – the recent Groom Facebook farce is yet another example of the strong aversion to reasonable, informed debate.

    I have yet to find answers to many of these questions. However, perhaps we need to ask what can we do to counter the efforts to silence Peter? Can we find a philanthropist willing to cover Peter’s cost and support a campaign to have him elected?

    If not Peter, then who can we support on an actual platform of good governance unlike the latest advertorial on page 3 in the HVT quite farcically proposing that we need a united community. Farcical in as much as the proposer has done the opposite

  96. Anonymous

    March 29, 2017 at 3:34 am

    I have been reading so many posts about hvc. As a former employee for four years, I really was looking forward to some sort of justice. I was treated baďly, many employees have been treated badly. Luckily I was able to move on. Yes, so many problems with councillors. But let’s not forget who really suffers, council employees.

  97. Geoffrey Swan

    March 29, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Attended HVC meeting this evening – 42 persons in the Gallery was a good turn out.

    I will leave the very disappointing outcome of the petition and the failure of Commissioner Taylor to accept that Mayor Coad should be reimbursed to other commentators.

    The refusal to release the Page Seager report is another travesty in this ongoing saga – more comment later.

    I do wish to update Bob’s article about my follow up requests to have my “full” public question about the Russell River recorded in the February 22nd minutes – Commissioner Taylor personally apologised for the delay in getting back to me and has advised me the full question will be inserted into the Minutes and this will be uploaded onto the HVC website ASAP.

    Council procedure rectified – but the ongoing tragedy of the damage to our river by the Huon Aquaculture Company is far from settled.

  98. john hayward

    March 28, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    The crucial issue here is to who is legally responsible if some citizen’s jaw is broken upon hitting the floor while reading an account of this case.

    It remains unclear as to why the Judicial Review Act does not operate in this state, and how it is possibly for select councillors to purchase made-to- order legal opinions from a private law firm using public money.

    I admit to having repeatedly witnessed government adjudicative bodies acting nakedly on behalf of private interests in the past, but told myself it had to be a freak aberration.

    I pray for someone to restore my faith in the Tas Justice system, but this time in a positive sense.

    John Hayward

  99. Robin Charles Halton

    March 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I am suggesting the whole operation by Commissioner Taylor is getting rather fuzzy as to “how” she was appointed!
    Minister Gutwein now realising her decision making during the HVC investigation is either beyond her “capability” and/ or terms of reference re. ex Mayor Coads claim!

    #6 William, you say “Far more so if the matter in contention is elevated to a Supreme Court hearing”
    Sure, that is where the matter of Mr Coad’s claim will end up, I know that it is a long haul and I think that it deserves to be explored by legal practitioners who could well give it the thumbs up and at the same time letting Commissioner Taylor “off the hook”!

  100. pat synge

    March 28, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve just returned home from the HVC monthly meeting where this issue was discussed at some length in “public question time”.

    HVC continues to maintain that Mayor Coad was taking “personal” legal advice and, as he was not an employee of council, they are not paying his legal expenses despite the facts as exposed in the article above. They deny that other councillors had their legal expenses paid and claim that the the alleged out-of-session Governance Committee meeting never took place.

    They sounded a bit shaky to me. Not very convincing. There may have been a bit of shredding going on at some stage. Where are you Kim Booth when we need you!

    I would be interested to see what a court of law would make of it all.

  101. Jill

    March 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    It’s only 40 rate payers yearly debt, pay it HVC and move on so this Lone Ranger can ride off into the sunset.

    It appears he has accepted the decision but will his group? I doubt it as they will have to find another axe to grind. Must have exiting lives…….#getahobby.

  102. Margie

    March 28, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Well I wrote to Adrianna Taylor and marked the envelope “strictly confidential” because it contained highly personal medical information.

    Reply from, Judi Walker, Compliance Officer.

    So thanks for breaching my medical confidentiality! That’s not the way it works Adriana. When you receive a letter marked “strictly confidential ” you sign it yourself – as if you’re the only one who has seen it. Even though others probably have.

    Actually, proper governance proscribes that if a person in authority receives a letter addressed specifically to them they reply and sign it regardless of any confidentiality requirements.

    Next stop, Privacy Commissioner. These people are complete amateurs.

  103. William Boeder

    March 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Good of you to bring this matter forward Bob Hawkins, again we see a separate set of rules being employed by the troubling elements within the Huon Valley Council.
    My own view of this entire matter of disputation between the guilty and non guilty parties is that there has been a small group of agitating wannabe self-centric persons each possessed of the traits of being selfish, self-serving and sinister in most all of their group undertakings by initiating this disputation for their own self aggrandizements.
    Given that the greater proportion of appointed individuals occupying Tasmania’s local council role of General Manager of each of Tasmania’s local council jurisdictions or bounds, have invented for themselves an imaginary pecking order (this being clearly apparent from the beginning of the HCV anti-ism as had been commenced by that small number of HCV prestige-slurping agitators.
    … the appointed Mayor Mr Peter Coad would have been enabled to successfully and efficiently carry out the functions and duties, which I must point out would never have introduced the legal expenses issue now in bigoted contention.
    From a common law point of view (rather than a Gutwein/Taylor point of view (which is consistent with a strongly biased political conspiratorial stink about it) Mayor Peter Coad could have been better served if he had launched a case of defamation against the HCV council smug group of prestige-slurping agitators.
    However, one must be en-garde when launching a litigation here in Tasmania as it is apparent that the true and proper carriage of Australian Constitutional law is blighted with its cankers of privilege and judicial discretion hidden within its framework, this then legalistic contrivance “is seldom allowed to influence a decision in favour of the innocent party.”
    Far more so if the matter in contention is elevated to a Supreme Court hearing.

  104. Anger in the Huon

    March 28, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Disgusting. Won’t be voting for this mob again.

    Coad was doing a good job sorting out the old guard.

    Tasmania needs more like him.

  105. Rosie Craske

    March 28, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Great article Bob – clear and right to the point as usual!

    Any examination of the facts clearly shows Peter Coad was always working in the best interests of the Huon Valley, in marked contract to some of his former Councillor colleagues.

    The legal expenses he incurred were always so that he could do his job as our democratically elected Mayor. It was for the community, and never in any way for his personal benefit.

    As Bob clearly points out, he must be reimbursed by the Council to correct this travesty of natural justice.

    Rosie Craske.

  106. henrietta

    March 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    $40,000.00 is a large sum to approve from the public purse[council funds] and i can understand the commissioners caution and reluctance to do so, but it is an huge sum to penalize an individual for who always appeared to be working in his public role as Mayor with the best interests of his community at heart.Perhaps these expenses could be broken down and the proportion established that specifically covered point 2 and these can be reimbursed?

    When will the Seager report be made public? Why can some councillors receive free legal council but not the Mayor?

  107. Peter Bright

    March 28, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I regard as false the statement by Commissioner Taylor that ..

    “I have considered all advice and have determined that the expenses were incurred personally by you and were not expenses incurred on behalf of the council .. “[/i]

    It’s just so obvious that Mr Coad was continuously acting in the best interests of the council and that certain legitimate expenses were incurred in doing so.

    It’s also obvious that he was compelled to take the actions he did.

    Commmissioner Taylor, your decision is wrong and according to Bob’s outstanding reports it’s quite within your province to correct it and you should do so.

    Not to do so puts you, in my opinion, as one siding with wrongdoing.

  108. Leveller

    March 28, 2017 at 10:31 am

    How come Mayor Foster AM OAM J.P. as the longest so called serving … This does not seem fair to the former Mayor Coad. If it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander.

    (anonymous comment edited)

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