JULIAN Fidge has taken aim at the Local Government Minister, the mayor, former councillors and local businesses in the wake of Wangaratta Council’s demise yesterday.
The councillor at the centre of the governance issues called for the Minister, Jeanette Powell, to be stood down.
He said Mrs Powell had overreacted to complaints made directly to her by former councillor Lisa McInerney, fellow councillors Don Joyce and Tammy Atkins and business groups which had not accepted the result of last year’s election.
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Cr Fidge said mayor Rozi Parisotto hadn’t been strong enough in trying to resolve the dramas.
He hasn’t ruled out standing in 2016.
“It is outrageous the minister has done this,” Cr Fidge said.
“We have had no chance to address the issues because we don’t know what the issues are.
“The idea you could come out and make an announcement and say ‘by the way I’ve had this secret investigation and I’ve decided you are all sacked’ is crap.
“This is Australia and not bloody China.”
Cr Fidge is appealing, to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a recent decision by a councillor conduct panel to find him guilty of five breaches of the council code of conduct.
He was on a collision course with senior management, including chief executive Doug Sharp, since being elected and ended up facing him and other corporate management team members in the Fair Work Commission.
“We were only elected 12 months ago and we haven’t been given a chance to govern,” Cr Fidge said.
“We could take this to court as I don’t think this decision could survive judicial scrutiny.”
He did regret $1.5 million being spent on governance issues and deflected a lot of the blame at Cr Parisotto.
“The mayor is a wonderful person, but when it comes to the more difficult issues, she hasn’t done such a good job,” he said.
He maintained he had a lot of support despite his role in the dramas.
“I’ve got a sore hand and wrist from people stopping me in the street shaking it and saying ‘thank you, you are doing a good job and don’t give up’,” he said.
“I will get a feel from people, absolutely, if they want me to stand again.”