From the minutes of August 8th 2010 Council Meeting –

Right of reply

(a) Cr Lipshutz – “I wish to make a personal statement and it arises from an article in The Leader that was published today.

Helen Whiteside was first elected in 2005 with me. Indeed we campaigned together and worked closely together since that time. We are not only colleagues but friends, showing very similar views as to what sort of city we wanted Glen Eira to be. Accordingly while I wish to pay tribute to the significant work Helen performed as a Councillor, I have to say I am saddened and disappointed that Helen has not only resigned but has done so with spite and malice in denigrating in such an untruthful way the Council and her colleagues. Colleagues who honoured her by electing her as a Mayor and a Council which she once lead.

I firmly believe that we were elected to make decisions on behalf of residents but equally as a functioning democracy we don’t always win every battle. You win some. You lose some. But essentially the Council or indeed any level of government to function properly there must be respect that the majority decision prevails. One does not take one’s bat and ball home merely because you lost a vote. You didn’t agree with the umpire’s decision. Regrettably, Helen has been unable to accept the majority decision. I recall that when she was first elected, she was faced by attack by certain members of the public about her role as a nurse. She wanted to resign. When she was elected I said only the preferences from Cr Penhalluriack and me she was miffed and wanted to resign. In each case, she was successfully prevailed upon to remain. In this case she could not accept the decision with respect to the re-appointment of the CEO and removed herself from her colleagues. She fomented dissent and division and ceased to be a team player.

 In a leading article in The Leader she cites her reason for resigning as the continued investigation by the Local Government Investigation and Compliance Inspectorate, the re-appointment of the CEO and some Councillors’ unacceptable behaviour.

It is my considered view that Council has worked well, co-operatively and respectfully to each other and Officers. I am unaware as to any matter of such magnitude as would warrant a resignation and indeed all Councillors without exception and whether or not agreeing with each other have concentrated on the issues and have not allowed any personal differences to impinge upon their work as Councillors. This is clearly reflected in the voting pattern inasmuch as there is no voting pattern. Councillors look at issues and decide on issues and not on personalities. It is decidedly healthy that there are differences of opinion and that those opinions whether expressed here in the chamber or elsewhere are stated without fear. On occasions debate and discussions have been robust but in all the time that I have been a Councillor we have always been able to agree to disagree. There’s only one Councillor in all the time that I have been on Council has been unable to do so – it has been Helen who removed herself in recent times from the Councillor Group. Clearly she does not wish to be associated with the other 8 Councillors. Who was guilty of bad behaviour? 

Helen has also raised the ongoing investigation. Let it be clear that the Inspectors have told me that the Inspectorate will investigate any matter brought before them no matter how spurious. This Council and every Councillor has not only fully cooperated with the Inspectorate but has afforded the Inspectorate access to every document for which a request has been made. I totally and categorically reject any suggestion that Councillors have not complied with the Municipal Inspector’s requests. 

Any suggestion or any or innuendo to the contrary is absolutely false. Helen has also asserted that there has been no that there have been decisions made leading to bad governance. Regrettably again she forms that view because she was a minority position. While we can always do things better I am confident that Councillors are well aware of the need for good governance and we have complied with all requirements. 

I can respect that Helen in keeping with her record of threatening to resign when the going gets tough has now resigned but I find it unacceptable and inappropriate that in doing so she has demeaned and denigrated the organisation that she has led as a Mayor.

It is sad that Helen has sour grapes towards her colleagues but to suggest that Council is not united, to suggest that Councillors are or have been engaged in bad behaviour or that there are significant governance issues is not just incorrect but is plainly wrong. 

I, for one, have never considered resigning, nor will I. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will be serving my full term and I am committed to ensuring this Council continues to work as it has to date: co-operatively, respectfully and diligently. When I lose a vote, I will not pack up and leave.