UPDATE – 12:30pm Monday
EARLIER – Friday 6pm
Ararat Rural City Council will not be subject to intervention by Victoria’s Local Government Minister despite concerns that its mayor is now living interstate.
Fairfax Media has been told by multiple sources that Ararat Rural City Council mayor Glenda Mclean has moved to Queensland.
Acting Local Government Minister and Western Victoria MP Jaala Pulford has indicated that the state government will not act while Ararat Rural City Council can summon sufficient councillors to a general meeting to form a quorum.
A quorum is minimum required number of councillors required to attend a meeting to make its decisions binding, which in Victoria would be having more than half the councillors attend a meeting.
“We are well aware of the challenges facing Ararat Council - that’s why a Monitor has been appointed to keep an eye on Council and assist where possible,” Ms Pulford said in a statement.
“This process needs to be allowed to run its course.”
Ararat’s business community has raised concerns about Cr McLean’s whereabouts.
There are media reports that Cr McLean is working at Mount Isa Hospital in north Queensland, more than 2600 kilometres from Ararat.
Fairfax Media has contacted Mount Isa Base Hospital and Queensland Health in an attempt to independently confirm those reports.
A nursing staff at Mount Isa could not confirm or deny that Cr McLean worked at the hospital and executive staff members were not available to comment.
Ararat Rural City councillor David Pettman has declined to comment, while other councilors except for deputy mayor Gwenda Allgood have not returned calls.
EARLIER – 2.45pm
Ararat Rural City Council has said Mayor Glenda McLean is interstate temporarily following claims that she has moved to Queensland.
Ararat Rural City deputy mayor Gwenda Allgood did not confirm or deny speculation among Ararat’s business community that Cr McLean attended the latest pre-council meeting briefing session via teleconference.
“I really don’t know what her movements are, I haven’t spoken to her for three or four days, so I really don’t know,” Cr Allgood said.
Multiple sources have told Fairfax Media that a moving van has attended Cr McLean’s residence.
Ararat Rural City chief executive Allan Bawden told the ABC on Friday that he did not know the mayor’s location.
Ararat Rural City later made an additional statement to Fairfax Media.
"Ararat Rural City Council CEO and Municipal Monitor have been made aware of these concerns,” the statement said.
“The Mayor has recently spent time interstate on private matters, but as far as Council is aware Cr McLean will be attending Tuesday night’s meeting.”
Fairfax Media has attempted to contact Cr McLean via multiple phone numbers.
Ararat Rural City’s other councillors did not respond to a request for comment.
Ararat businessperson David Hosking said ratepayers needed to know what was going on.
“I think that there are some good people on our council and I think there are good people who work for our council,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say, if we go back to the days when Andrea Marion was mayor and going through to the current time, I don’t think our council has functioned well.
“I don’t think it has performed to the level that we would expect as ratepayers, and it’s fair to say that a lot of people have had enough.”
Mr Hosking said it was time for Victoria’s Local Government Minister to get involved.
“Here is the supposed leader of our city, and I don’t know where she is. Nobody knows anything,” he said.
“The rest of us in the community have lost faith and trust in the people who have been elected to run the place.
“What I think should happen is that we need to reset. I think the state government should intervene, dismiss the council and appoint an administrator.”
It has been a difficult 18 months for Ararat Rural City Council, with a controversial plan to abolish differential rates discounts for farmers, a state government commission of inquiry and subsequent damning report, the former mayor’s resignation and a councillor’s request to the state government to sack the entire council.
More to come
- Glenda McLean elected Ararat Rural City mayor at heated meeting
- Hooper resigns from ‘untenable’ Ararat Rural City Council
- Municipal monitor appointed to Ararat Rural City Council
- Peter Beales offers resignation, calls on minister to sack council
- Ararat Rural City mayor McLean apologises for conduct
- Ararat Rural City chief executive departure questioned