*Pic: The man who ordered the mediation - despite the Board of Inquiry recommendation that the HVC Council should be sacked - Minister for Local Government Peter Gutwein. Pic: from Peter Gutwein’s Facebook page.
Cr Peter Coad, Mayor of the Huon Valley Council, said today that he would not be taking part in what he sees as the flawed mediation process adopted by the controlling councillor voting block.
Mayor Coad said: “I entered these negotiations in good faith and was hoping that an outcome would be achieved for the benefit of the Huon Valley community in general.
“However, in my view, council management and certain councilllors have failed to grasp the opportunity that the Minister for Local Government, Peter Gutwein, provided in the seven directives he announced on June 15.
Mayor Coad said: “I have written to the Minister advising him that I believe that Council has failed to comply with his first Ministerial Direction directing me and the General Manager to mediate.
“A proper mediation that has any chance of success requires both parties to agree on the mediator. It also requires equal access to the mediator and equal input from both parties to ensure both parties feel they are being heard.”
The mayor said: “At no stage was I invited to make any recommendations to Council about the person to be appointed as mediator. Instead, I was presented with a pre-prepared list of mediators commissioned by the General Manager.
“A belated attempt to cure this flaw came in the form of a two-day EOI (expression of interest) process that was entirely unsatisfactory and represented extremely poor governance.
“Council then appointed a mediator, but I cannot support the process leading to this appointment. My input into the process has been completely overlooked, and I do not agree to the appointment.”
Mayor Coad said: “The General Manager has already been in touch with the mediator and is driving the process. Again, this taints the process. You cannot have only one party driving a mediation without input from the other.
“As I said from the beginning, this was probably an inevitable outcome given the dysfunction that exists within council.”
Both Crs Liz Smith and Ian McIntosh have told me that they, too, have serious concerns about the mediation process that has been adopted by Council, and both agree that the people of the Huon Valley deserve much better.”
Mayor Coad said he reaffirmed his earlier commitment to the Minister, that he would work in a positive and constructive way towards implementing the Ministerial Directions.
“I offered the council an olive branch, whereby we would engage a qualified consultant, acceptable to all of us, to implement all the Minister’s directions on behalf of council. This was totally rejected by council.”
“I must say that all of this is a diversion from the real issues of concern to the Community that were touched on by the BOI (Board of Inquiry) Report. Council should really be addressing those issues as a priority rather thn mediation being the first hurdle.”
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: … By the way, the large-type headline on the Mercury’s HVC article on Saturday (July 16), which read ‘Mayor rejects mediation’, was completely incorrect. What the article below it said was that the mayor was rejecting the mediation process being imposed on him by the Heart councillors on the recommendation of the GM. For goodness’ sake, how can two people enter into mediation if they cannot agree on who should be the mediator? All of the mayor’s very reasonable olive branches relating to mediation have been spurned by the Heart councillors.