Dysfunctional Darebin - who's to blame?
Updated: Apr 19
So that residents can make up their own minds about what's happening in Darebin Council, I have transcribed one 7 minute segment of the 14 April 2022 meeting. Keep in mind that since the Mayor was elected for a second 1 year term late last year all meetings since then have played out similarly. The transcript shows:
Five distinct Points of Order
Failure of the interjecting Councillors to clearly state the governance rule they were relying on to raise a Point of Order and/or quote the objectionable sentence
An interjection which is clearly incorrect just by examining the transcript
Dozens of other interjections and interruptions (marked with "...")
Failure to follow the reasonable directions of the Mayor, including to stop speaking
A Councillor is given 2 minutes to speak during debate. The many Points of Order, rulings and interjections mean that the segment is 7 minutes long. Extrapolate this across a whole meeting and you'll understand why meetings go late into the night and sometimes do not finish the whole agenda.
These tactics are making the meetings unbearable for residents and are tying up the work of Council. The cost in staff time, and opportunity costs, are incalculable.
While the whole community is looking forward to the installation of a Municipal Monitor, as announced by Local Government Minister, Hon. Shaun Leane on 8 April 2022, it's hard to see how the narrow terms of reference in the Local Government Act will give them sufficient scope to deal with this behaviour.
Note that Cr Laurence, Cr Dimitriadis, Cr Greco, and Cr Williams walked out of this meeting of 14 April 2022 later in the night causing its business to abruptly end mid-debate. They also walked out of the previous meeting on 29 March 2022. (Click the dates to see video).
Watch the 7 minute segment here: https://youtu.be/hliSjbYKlT4?t=2445 and download a printer-friendly version of the transcript:
Special Meeting of Darebin Council
Date: 14 April 2022
Time: 40"54" - 47'50"
Agenda Item: 4.1
Video Link: https://youtu.be/hliSjbYKlT4?t=2445
I won't be supporting this amendment to the substantive motion. The substantive motion does all the things that we need it to do, which is it sets up a professional process that enables Council to deal with the risks we have over coming months; which is to ensure that we have a mechanism for both the appointment of an interim CEO and also an ongoing CEO.
I find this motion is actually almost in contradiction to the previous amendment that Councillor Greco put forward, which I also didn't support. This one, instead of talking about the opportunity to invite…
Cr Dimitriadis: Sorry, Point of Order, Mayor.
Mayor Messina: Please can you please quote which one?
Cr Dimitriadis: [Governance rule] "10.1 H."
Mayor Messina: In relation to which comment?
Cr Dimitriadis: "Misleading statement"
Mayor Messina: Which one please?
Cr Dimitriadis: "10.1 H."
Mayor Messina: No, but what statement? I didn't hear what was misleading.
Oh yes, that this particular motion is contradictory to the previous amendment; ...that this particular amendment is contradictory...
Mayor Messina: That is subjective... sorry that is subjective.
Well, yes, but it is a misleading statement. It is subjective but it is misleading...
Mayor Messina: It's subjective to what you think is misleading...so
Cr Dimitriadis: But it is also subjective to the...
Mayor Messina: It's subjective to what the statement is...
It's subjective based on the interpretation.
It is not a Point of Order.
Can you please continue, Councillor McCarthy?
Thank you. Mayor. I just know that it was one minute, twenty seconds on the clock.
Yes. Sorry. Can we...yep, so I'll go, just stop the clock for a moment. So you've got a minute thirty. Go ahead.
Thank you, Mayor. So, I'll just restate this. This amendment actually contradicts the previous amendment put forward by Councillor Greco in that this one, if adopted, would effectively limit the pool of people who could take on the role of interim CEO - not to current general managers or current staff or anyone - but just to experienced and retired CEOs who also, I'm sure, would be wonderful to give consideration to. So, this actually will take us completely in the opposite direction...
Cr Dimitriadis: Point of Order, Mayor.
Just one moment. I know what you're going to say, Councillor Dimitriadis, that actually is not correct, what it says is "request advice." So maybe just change the last statement, Councillor McCarthy,
So thank you, Mayor, I'm very happy to, because what this effectively does, sorry just to be clear, if this was adopted, is that it removes the requirement for the recruitment of the interim CEO from the role of an independent professional...
Cr Greco: Point of Order, Mayor Messina.
Mayor Messina: Please quote which item please, Councillor Greco?
Cr Greco: Point of Order. It's a "misleading statement."
Mayor Messina: Okay. You need to quote...
Cr Greco: Well, I'll find the quote, give me a moment and I'll find the quote...
Mayor Messina: Actually, if you think it's misleading, I heard nothing that's misleading....
Cr Greco: Well, I'll tell you what is misleading if you let me finish, yep.
Mayor Messina: Go ahead, Councillor Greco.
Where it's misleading is that it does not prohibit...all it is seeking is advice. It's not saying that it actually excludes....
Mayor Messina: Yep, I agree with that, I agree with that...I did...
Cr Greco: So, I think that needs to be corrected for the record.
Cr McCarthy: Mayor, that's not what I said...
Just one minute. I didn't hear 'prohibit'...[Addressing Cr McCarthy] I didn't think you said that...
So that's why I said it was subjective. I didn't actually hear that from Councillor McCarthy. I actually asked that he retract the comment that he made before. He changed it. I didn't hear it again, Councillor Greco. So, therefore, have we stopped the clock? You have a minute and fifteen. Can we can we please stick to what's on the agenda, what the debate is and just be very careful with the words that we're using.
Thank you, Mayor. I'll again have a go at trying to make my statement. Point 1 specifically says, "remove the requirement for the recruitment of an interim CEO from the proposed contract." That's clear. What it then does...
Cr Greco: Cr McCarthy, could you please speak up, please.
Cr Laurence: Point of Order.
Cr Greco: Because I can't hear you very clearly?
Cr Laurence: Point of Order. Point of Order.
Cr Greco: Could you please speak up?
Mayor Messina Please quote what item...please quote?
Cr Laurence I mean we're adults here...Mayor Messina I implore you...
Mayor Messina Can you please quote? Councillor...
Cr Laurence I implore you to apply "10.1 H."
Mayor Messina Can I...Councillor, Councillor... you are misleading.
Can you stop, Councillor Laurence? Thank you.
First of all, do you have the governance rules in front of you?
Cr Laurence: No, I don't have to have them in front of me.
No, but you need to quote the proper governance...you need to quote what item...
Cr Laurence: Why do I have to quote it and these guys don't?
Mayor Messina: They actually did.
Cr Laurence: We can watch the videos for months on this...
Mayor Messina: Councillor. Councillor Laurence.
I've got "1.10". Is that I'm reading that, and it says it adjusted to an optional service. It does not say [unclear due to background noise]...
Mayor Messina: Okay. We're not entering the debate.
Cr Laurence: We should enter it because this is nonsense. What's going on here?
Mayor Messina: The nonsense is the Point of Order interjections.
Councillor, Councillor. Let's stick to the agenda, and let's stick to the debate.
Cr Laurence: Point of Order.
There's many Points of Orders that can be called during this and some of us have let that go. So can we please stick to the debate Councillor Laurence? The Councillor Laurence?
Cr Laurence: The Point of Order is the statement is contrary...
Mayor Messina: That's not what I heard.
Thank you, Councillor Laurence. Continue Councillor McCarthy.
Thank you, Mayor. As it states clearly, "removes the requirement for the recruitment of the interim CEO as a required service" and adjustment to an optional service. What it effectively does is that it creates a situation where Council effectively says we're going to award a contract and have an optional service. That's not the nature of the structure of decision that we have in front of us, and Councillors would be aware of that having read the confidential papers. What we do have here is a proposal that effectively means that someone in the organisation needs to administer a process whereby we not only go off and consider possible, experienced and retired CEOs via the MAVs list, we also consider potential internal applicants and then we may also...
Cr Dimitriadis: Point of Order again, Mayor.
It does allow for internal applicants. I mean, I'm not sure why we have to keep "point of ordering these things."
Mayor Messina: He didn't say it didn't.
Cr Dimitriadis: He said it doesn't.
He just...I'm sorry he did say it doesn't allow for internal applicants.
[Editorial note: Cr Dimitriadis is wrong, as shown in the transcript above, Cr McCarthy states, "we also consider potential internal applicants."]
Cr McCarthy: I didn't...
Cr Dimitriadis: Just at the end...
Mayor Messina: Councillor, that's not what I heard
Cr McCarthy: Mayor!
Mayor Messina: Councillor McCarthy.
Council, this is the fifth. This is the fifth Point of Order.
Councillor McCarthy, can you just rephrase, for the purpose of the...just rephrase. And this has really been, this is really unproductive. Really, Really.
I'll just state there, I feel like I'm bordering on a campaign of harassment to be frank. That's how it feels, because I get 10 seconds into this statement...
Mayor Messina: [Interjects to stop a Councillor from raising another Point of Order.]
Don't even bother...
I'll just finish my statement by basically saying this actually becomes a really problematic process because it requires a significant amount of effort from within the organisation to administer potentially multiple processes. The original proposal was very clean, very clear and very direct in terms of accountability. And I urge Councillors to reject the motion in front of them.
Thank you. So we've heard from Councillor Greco, Councillor Rennie, Councillor Dimitriadis, Councillor McCarthy. Are there any further speakers?