Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mayor's Valley Vision apology

Mayor Ben Shaw, centre, with Richard Warner and Governor
Kate Warner in a photo shared on his public Facebook page
on two recent occasions. 
COUNCILLOR Ben Shaw delivered the following apology from the mayor's seat at last week's Derwent Valley Council meeting following publication of private messages about Mr Richard Warner, the husband of Tasmanian Governor Kate Warner, in his role as one-time chairman of the former Derwent Valley Economic Renewal Group, better known as Valley Vision.

"So this is a personal statement from myself. It's come to my attention that a doctored version of a private text message around the Valley Vision and its committee members, a group which existed from 15 years ago, has been made public and caused some hurt and confusion to the former committee and staff of Valley Vision and in particular Mr Dick Warner as he was named in the message.

"This statement is from me personally and any views expressed expressed in this statement, and in the messages in question, are those of myself personally and not those of me as myself as mayor or those of the Derwent Valley Council.

"I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to all committee members and staff involved in the Valley Vision for the assertion that I made that the committee somehow misappropriated funds. While this is how it reads it's not the true reflection of my discontent with the Valley Vision.

"The comments were made in haste and on the fly with the intent for me to revisit the background when catching up with the person face-to-face. These comments were never meant to be public or cause any harm. I want to make it very clear that I do not think Mr Warner or any committee member misappropriated funds via the Valley Vision.

The logo of the former Valley Vision group.
"However for clarity purposes I want to say that the background to my discontent with the Valley Vision, and a reference to $2 million being taken from the community is, and I will retain my views that the Valley Vision used $2 million for community projects, some of which I believe were okay and some I think were poor. The CEO was paid, it was a paid position and the team were also staff. I firmly believe this wasn't the best use for the money that was allocated and that's what drove my comments.

"I wish I'd have chosen my own words more carefully and considered the impact this may have caused the people involved and will certainly be more measured into the future. Again I sincerely apologize to Mr Warner and all involved in the committee, in that committee, some of which I actually consider close friends, for any confusion, hurt or harming of their reputations. Thank you."

Cr Shaw at a council meeting
earlier this year.
A voice from the public gallery then asked: "What about your reputation though?" but the mayor moved on to the next item of business without responding.

Cr Shaw published a similar apology on his private Facebook page shortly before the council meeting, where it was visible to Facebook friends only.

The story of the mayor's Valley Vision messages has been covered today by the ABC and the Mercury

Richard (Dick) and Kate Warner are respected long-term residents of New Norfolk who have brought immense credit to the town before and after Professor Warner's appointment as Governor of Tasmania in 2014.

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