Kiama Council calls on The Bugle to get its facts straight

Published on 17 May 2024

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Understanding thoroughly how local government works is pivotal to ensuring that unbiased, factual reporting on Council matters occurs.

Kiama Council calls on The Bugle to develop a deeper understanding of Local Government, its processes, and systems and the respective roles of Councillors and Public Officials, before demanding public apologies in editorials. 

Council provides the following facts in direct reply to abundant misinformation provided this week in the 'Bugle's View' editorial article titled “Should the Kiama Council Apologise?”:

  • The article states the minutes from November 2023 have been removed. This is incorrect. The minutes from November, or any other month, remain live on Council website for all to read. It’s a legislative requirement to make minutes public. They have not been removed from public record.
  • The Mayor did not vote in the 21 November 2023 meeting regarding the censure of a Councillor. The minutes and the public record are available for cross-checking. This shows which councillors voted for and against the matter.
  • The CEO is not involved in the decision-making process of censuring any councillors.
  • No CEO of any Council in Australia ever votes on any report in the ordinary business papers of Council, they are not allowed to do so. It’s quite simply just not part of the job.
  • The CEO is required as part of their role, to process all Code of Conduct complaints submitted either by Councillors, or members of the public in line with the Procedures for the Administration of the Code of Conduct. These procedures can be found on Council’s website.
  • The CEO cannot stop Code of Conduct complaints being submitted.
  • The Growth and Housing strategy work referred to in the editorial is on track to be finished by June 2024. In the March business papers (page 390), it is clearly stated that the draft documents are planned to be submitted to Council in July 2024 (stage 5). These can be found on Council’s website.
  • The Community Engagement Strategy is incorrectly referred to as the Communications strategy. This work was endorsed to go on public exhibition at the April 2024 meeting (page 94 of the April business papers). The exhibition period for this strategy ends today (17 May) and staff are on track to make it to the June or July 2024 ordinary meeting with the final document.
  • Council does not “shutdown”. All Local Governments in NSW will enter caretaker period on 16 August, until 13 September, 2024. This period is governed by the State regulations and Council’s own caretaker policy (also on the website).
  • The costs of all current legal matters are listed in the business papers for May 2024 (item 13.2 on page 81.)
  • The Supreme Court matter that the article refers to was initiated by Councillor Renkema-Lang (the plaintiff) against Kiama Municipal Council (the first defendant) and against Mr Michael Symons from Anti Corruption Consultants Australia (ACCA) (the second defendant). Mr Symons was the independent investigator who prepared the report on the Code of Conduct matter, as per the requirements of the Procedures. The Councillors relied upon the independent investigation report conducted by Mr Symons to make their resolution on 21 November 2023, as per the procedures.
  • On the 22 April 2024 as part of the Supreme Court matter, all parties (plaintiff, first and second defendants) agreed by consent orders that the second defendant’s final investigation report, and the recommendations and determinations within it are invalid: and resolution 23/350OC made by the first defendant on 21 November 2023 is invalid.  
  • The above is merely a statement of the facts on the legal matter not commentary. Kiama Municipal Council does not comment on live legal matters. 
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