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'Viewpoint' Huon News

Published Wednesday 28th September 2022

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Open Letter to the voters of the Huon Valley LGA

We should offer our heartfelt thanks to the outgoing councillors who have done their utmost to
respond to the requirements of the Local Government Act (1993) and sundry other legislation
(about 20 other pieces or so) in their attempts to represent the Minister for Local Government in the
task of providing governance of and to enhance the health and wellbeing of the local community.
Of course this required councillors to listen to the local community regularly, a task at which they
have failed with alarming regularity.

Over the past 18 months or so, a dedicated group of community members has met fairly regularly to
discuss this serious problem with Huon Valley Council, in particular the inability of the elected
members to show any discernible leadership, governance or vision for the Huon Valley Community.
The Council appears to have operated as no more than a rubber stamp for any issue requiring a vote.
We should give thanks also for the lesson that voters have been taught by this outgoing Council.

“Don't do that again.”

None of this is surprising. The shocking conflicted appointment of the General Manager
highlighted a serious lack of comprehension with Councillors of what was expected of them in
hiring a GM. Councillors have carried on regardless in spite of the Huon Valley Council being made
a statewide laughing stock on the floor of the State Parliament, The Deputy Mayor and one other
councillor being formally sanctioned and since then the Acting Mayor & remaining rump of
councillors have done little, if anything to ensure that such a debacle could never happen again.

It was gratifying to read that the wrongdoers had undertaken remedial training in governance “to do
things correctly now” It was not just the conflict of interest with the recruitment of the GM that
was problematic. There has been a global misunderstanding with elected members of the
requirements of governance. For example, Council would be assured by the General Manager that
any employees in Council Childcare would have the prerequisite Working With Vulnerable People
Card, however, it is still unclear if any of the outgoing Council had bothered to get a Police Check
or Working With Vulnerable People card prior to nominating to be elected in 2018.

A Working with vulnerable People Card is a necessary requirement for any formal/invited visitor to
a Council owned pre school, a local public school or even an Aged Care facility or even to formally
meet with a local resident in their own home. This photo ID protects the Council, the councillor
and the community & should be a prerequisite prior to nominating. This is such a basic issue, it
concerns me that there might be candidates standing in 2022 who have not even thought about this
aspect of their potential responsibilities, never mind the issue of having to manage and work with a
conflicted GM. A Councillor can hardly expect an employee to have this ID without having one

A major governance issue still unresolved at the time or writing is the inadequate response to the
State Planning Scheme. The Elected Members abdication of responsibility to the community by
attempting to bat the many unresolved issues affecting the community, back to the State Planning
Authority is nothing short of negligent.

Sitting with other members of our community outside Woolworths in Huonville and talking to
passers by about the goings on in the Council has been met with universal condemnation of the
elected member's dismissive behaviour and siege mentality. A number of petitions have been
submitted to Council expressing disappointment and loss of trust in the inactions of the Council,
and of course these words fell on the very deaf ears of the Acting Mayor & Councillors who
showed no desire to be subjected to such accountabilities. Some have even engaged in vilification

and insults on social media and in the local press against anyone who dared to question their claim
that everything is alright now.

Fix Huon Council wishes to highlight to the community the importance of our next Council being
able to deliver our services, create a shared vision with the community and be accountable to the
Minister and legislation and to do so with intelligence, foresight and openness with those who will
be voting shortly. The success of the Council moving forward depends on mutual trust, and
accountability. When trust is lost and convention is trashed by our elected Council leadership, as
we have experienced then we must make sure that for this election, Voters elect a Council, Mayor
and Deputy Mayor dedicated to putting governance and the community firmly back on the agenda.

Tim Sanderson