There was high drama at Tuesday’s Livingstone Shire Council meeting.
There was high drama at Tuesday’s Livingstone Shire Council meeting.

Tensions boil over at council

TENSIONS boiled over at Tuesday’s Livingstone Shire Council meeting when Mayor Bill Ludwig ejected councillor Glenda Mather and she responded by saying she was going to report him for bullying.

Councillors had been discussing Livingstone’s membership with the Welcoming Cities Network (national network promoting participation in social, cultural, economic and civic life) when Cr Mather attempted to move a procedural motion that this matter be deferred to the next council after the March election.

Some councillors, including Cr Mather, then attempted to enter into debate and Cr Ludwig informed them that because it was a procedural motion, councillors could not debate it.

The motion was lost on a vote and Cr Mather tried to speak.

“Hang on Mr, hang on Mr Chairman, don’t, please, please, this is so important Mr Chairman,” Cr Mather pleaded.

Cr Ludwig stopped her.

“Councillor, councillor, I’m going to stand,” Cr Ludwig said.

“I asked at the start of the meeting if councillors could follow appropriate procedure.

“You moved a procedural motion, I received the motion, I put it to the vote, it was voted down.

“There is no further debate past that point. Ok, now I don’t want to be warning you formally again because we don’t do that.

“There’s a procedure that you follow at the table.”

A council officer was then asked to address council on the matter.

When the officer finished talking, Cr Mather said she wished to “speak against it” and she was again stopped by Cr Ludwig who said: “You’re getting ahead of yourself again...I haven’t got an active motion yet.”

Cr Nigel Hutton moved a motion that Livingstone be a “Welcoming City” and commits to achieving the established level of membership, which was seconded by Cr Jan Kelly.

Cr Hutton spoke for the motion and Cr Ludwig then called for speakers against it, to which Cr Mather obliged.

“Mr Chairman, I’d like to think that we’re an inclusive community, we’re welcoming, we consider everybody else’s opinions, we respect them, we don’t bully them, we welcome them here for the right reasons,” she said.

“We don’t have to pay our way into anything to bring people here.

“We need to remember our core values - not only roads, rates and rubbish, but there’s a whole lot of other things that go in there to bind this all together.

“I’ve got people out there who want gravel on their roads.”

Cr Ludwig interjected and asked Cr Mather to “focus on the debate” to which she replied: “I am focusing, Mr Chairman.”

When Cr Mather turned and started addressing the gallery, which included members of the media and the public, Cr Ludwig took exception and asked her to “address the table please”.

A frustrated Cr Mather hit back with: “Mr Chairman, would you let me have a go please?”

That prompted Cr Ludwig to formally warn Cr Mather and she then stated: “I’m going to report you for bullying to, Mr Chairman, I’ve had enough of your bullying!”

Cr Ludwig then asked Cr Mather to leave the meeting and she said: “I will leave the table, Mr Chairman, and I’m reporting you again for bullying. That’s the second time this month, I’ve had you.”

Cr Adam Belot, who himself had already been warned twice about his conduct by Cr Ludwig, asked if he could move a procedural motion that there was dissent in the mayor’s ruling to eject Cr Mather.

Cr Ludwig said Cr Belot could not.

“When I ask for a councillor to...address the table, you are not allowed to talk back,” Cr Ludwig said.

“You can’t move a dissent motion.”

Councillors unanimously voted in support of the motion.

Footnote: At the start of Tuesday’s council meeting, Cr Ludwig had told councillors that he was “carrying a little bit of background fatigue” from his long days as disaster co-ordinator during the bushfires.

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