Hartwig echoes Perrett's warning to Gympie council
A STATEMENT from Gympie Regional Councillor Glen Hartwig on the controversial policy to be voted on this morning:
There have been many concerned residents inquiring about the proposed Legal Assistance Policy.
It is easier to answer all at once than field many calls.
I have significant and confounding concerns with this policy proposal. When I first read the policy it appeared to me to be written and intended to be used against those that speak out against the council or council actions.
In the past the Mayor and CEO decided to authorise a legal firm to issue a letter to a Facebook forum.
It appears in my opinion that this policy and its explanation are intended for this group and others that speak out, including The Gympie Times.
As someone who has been informed that I am not on the "TEAM”, this policy concerns me personally as one who understands how the legal system dries up the funds of individuals defending themselves against action.
Having the Mayor and CEO as the gatekeepers to this policy is also dangerous.
If the council is intending to take legal action or support a councillor or staff member, this should come from the council.
Currently, the council could be presented with a motion for legal support or to take legal action.
The proposed policy removes the role of councillors from this process and has little or no checks and balances.
What would occur if the Mayor and CEO were both requiring assistance? Would the Mayor approve the CEO and vice versa?
Surely I am not the only councillor who sees the massive potential conflict of interest in that situation.
The current system works where matters can be brought before council for councillors to consider and vote on. This should remain.
To suggest that this new policy would streamline this process is crazy.
How often have councillors past needed to approve the legal assistance of a councillor or staff member or take action against a group or individual?
I would believe rarely, if at all.
Trust is an important part of public office. My opinion and fear is that what little trust was left will be destroyed by this policy.
To be told I am not part of the "TEAM” is something I appreciate. I am there to represent the ratepayer and this policy does nothing to assist the ratepayer in any way.