Friday, April 19, 2019

Council meeting suspended over question time row

Ben Shaw, right, leaving the chair after adjourning last night's
council meeting for 30 minutes.
LAST night’s Derwent Valley Council meeting was suspended for 30 minutes after the mayor refused to allow a personal statement to be made during public question time.

After dealing with several questions from local residents, mayor Ben Shaw said he would not allow a public statement from Mr Len Butterworth.

The council requires all questions and statements to be provided in writing 10 minutes before the meeting, and Cr Shaw had discussed Mr Butterworth’s statement with general manager Greg Winton just before opening the proceedings in the New Norfolk Courthouse last night.

Cr Shaw said Mr Butterworth’s statement did not relate to council business and would not be heard. “I won’t be taking the statement because it’s against our [meeting] conduct and it’s not relevant to council business,” he said.

Mr Butterworth attempted to make his statement regardless, despite repeated warnings from the mayor. Cr Shaw eventually banged his gavel, rose to his feet and adjourned the meeting for half an hour. With Mr Butterworth continuing his statement about seating at an AFL match, and ignoring requests to leave the room, the mayor then asked all the councillors to leave.

The council chamber after it was vacated by the councillors.
Most council staff also left the room, leaving behind the general manager and about 10 people in the public gallery.  After 30 minutes the meeting resumed without further incident and at the close of proceedings Cr Shaw apologised to those people in the gallery who were genuinely interested in council business and not there to cause trouble.

Cr Shaw later said Mr Butterworth’s comments had related to a personal Facebook post where he had asked if any of his contacts could help with “some members or good family tickets” to an AFL match. There is no suggestion of impropriety on the mayor's part.


  1. After reading a post by the Mayor, I find it had to believe that I was in the same room as him. The report in the mercury and this post is as accurate a report that you will get without a complete transcript of proceedings. I think it should be up to the Mayor to prove that this report and the report in the Mecury are only half truths.

  2. Trouble makers should be thrown out on the ears

  3. Trouble makers should be thrown out on the ears

  4. The problem is the trouble makers can’t be thrown out just yet, they got voted in at the last election and haven’t served their term!

  5. I don't speak for the rest of the ratepayers in the Derwent Valley, but what I am interested in is the Council doing the job that I elected them to do, maintaining the roads,collecting the rubbish and in general looking after my community and giving me value for my rate dollar. I am NOT interested in who is sleeping with who,or if the Mayor is going to the football (providing I am not paying)the constant distuptions at Council meetings is a blight on our community and making us a laughing stock, there are ways to get your opinions and disagreements across to council, turning the meetings in to an episode of a soap opera is not the way to go. I really want to attend but to be quite honest with you I am now too frightened to because I am fearful about what will happen next.It is about time this behaviour (on both sides) ceased and you all got on with the job of administering and or contributing to this municipality in a positive way, I am over it !!!!!!!

  6. Let's get one thing straight. There is only one person that Council has objected to making comment and unfortunately this person is his own worst enemy. This being said the Mayor could have handled the situation completely differently. But he choose the method that would attract the most comment. Not the Council not the public but the Mayor. He needs to rethink the way meetings are held and to be not so antagonistic

  7. Thank you to "Ratepayer" for your comment stating: "The comments made by the member of the public was way over the top and the Mayor was well within his rights to suspend the meeting. That said it appears that it has come about because the mayor had put up a post seeking tickets to a football game."
    It needs to be stated however, that there is no suggestion the mayor was seeking free tickets.