Bunbury mayor denies council divide

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Mayor Gary Brennan has denied any divide in Bunbury City Council after a councillor took to social media claiming a rift was “clearly evident”.

Cr Brendan Kelly claimed in a post it was “no secret” the council was a divided team and “divisive party politics” were causing trouble.

The post was referring to the debate over last week’s decision not to fill the seat of resigning councillor Joel McGuinness along with a previous move to allow a Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry representative to sit on the council’s policy committee.

Several councillors – including Mr Brennan and Deputy Mayor Jaysen Miguel – were unaware of a crusade from a group of their peers to request a special meeting over the vacant council position, suggesting a lack of communication among the council.

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Mr Brennan said the way the special meeting came about was not normal and he “absolutely” would have liked the process to be handled better.

“There was no communication or discussion with me, there was none with the Deputy Mayor, there was none with the CEO prior to that request being received,” Mr Brennan said.

“And I think the request was simply handed in at the customer service desk.”

Despite his frustration over the incident, Mr Brennan ruled out a divide saying diverse views and opinions were one of the council’s strengths.

“I don’t consider diverse views and opinions to be a division of the city, I believe it’s one of our strengths and that will always be the case,” he said.

“These are and there always will be differences of opinions, based on a whole raft of experiences, knowledge and other factors.

“The worse situation you can have in a council or any organisation is where everybody is in agreement – that is unhealthy,” he said.

In response to a question from the Bunbury Herald whether some councillors took decisions too personally, Mr Brennan said “I won’t go down that track”.

He stressed that the “majority” of councillors were on the council for the best interests of the city and community.

“They work hard to achieve that, that’s what the community expects from it’s elected council, that it works hard to represent the community interest and to benefit the community and that’s the whole focus,” he said.

“If it ever got to a situation where it deteriorated to the point of personalities and personal interests, that would be a sad day for Bunbury,” he said.

“We’re not at that point and we won’t get to that point whilst I’m Mayor.”

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