VCAT found on March 4th that Cr Milvan Muto had engaged in 13 instances of conduct constituting misconduct, the penalty for which could have included that he must take leave of absence from a specified date for a period specified by VCAT not exceeding two months. Cr Muto was directed to take leave for one month.
In addition to those orders Cr Muto proffered an undertaking to the Tribunal, negotiated by him with the prosecuting Secretary of the Office of Local Government, “that for a period of five months commencing on 5 April 2011 and concluding on 5 September 2011 he would not perform any duties as a Councillor save for attendance at the monthly public Council meeting held on the third Tuesday of the month… and meetings of the “Shepp Show Me” committee”. No Cr briefings, no stakeholder or other committee meetings, no deputations, interviews or submission hearings and no day-to-day interactions with colleague councillors or senior officers. Indeed a strict interpretation of “attendance” above would even prohibit speaking and voting at the council’s monthly (Ordinary) meetings.
“How could Cr Muto, under those self-agreed-to unnecessarily-constraining assurances, possibly fulfil his oath of office to undertake the duties of the office of Councillor in the best interests of the people in the municipal district of Greater Shepparton and faithfully and impartially carry out the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in (him) under the Local Government Act 1989 or any other Act to the best of (his) skill and judgment”?
Simply can’t be done, can it? Whether you condone Cr Muto’s self-admitted intemperate behaviour or not, and most punters would not, the much better penalty would clearly have been Cr Muto having been rubbed out for the maximum two months for his self-acknowledged belligerent transgressions without the “negotiated” irrational five-month leg-roping – effectively a “councillor” not being fully permitted to act as a councillor.
As it is we now have a shambolic municipal decision-making process where arguably one-seventh of the voting constituency is denied full and informed representation when some far-reaching decisions are being made.
The Minister for Local Government should insist that such irrational negotiated “compromises” are legislated out of the punitive councillor conduct process.
Yours sincerely, John Gray
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