Councillors question Bunbury festival deal

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Artist liason Andew Princi, assistant mootown stage manager Tony Worden, Bunbury deputy mayor Jaysen Miguel and event manager Sarah Foster are excited Groovin’ the Moo has been secured in Bunbury for another five years.
Camera IconArtist liason Andew Princi, assistant mootown stage manager Tony Worden, Bunbury deputy mayor Jaysen Miguel and event manager Sarah Foster are excited Groovin’ the Moo has been secured in Bunbury for another five years. Credit: Stuart McGuckin / South Western Times

Questions around how the announcement of a five-year deal with popular festival Groovin’ the Moo was handled have been labelled by Mayor Gary Brennan as “thinly veiled criticism” of Bunbury City Council staff.

Councillors were brought to order and told to sit down on several occasions as question time took a heated turn during the council’s meeting last week.

In an uncommon occurrence, Cr Monique Warnock used the Questions from Members in standing orders to ask questions about how council staff handled the announcement and why the Bunbury Events Advisory Group was not involved.

Cr Michelle Steck – who is chairwoman of the events board – also raised questions, saying the media attention the festival contract received was not the “marketing and exposure we were expecting”.

After Mr Brennan took Cr Steck and four of Cr Warnock’s five questions on notice, Cr Warnock asked why any answers were not forthcoming with city staff and chief executive Mal Osborne present at the meeting.

Mr Brennan responded “because I’ve ruled that way” and said if councillors did not provide the “common courtesy” of providing the questions prior to the meeting, it made it difficult to respond without any notice.

Cr Steck tried to respond to Mr Brennan’s comments before being told to sit down twice.

Mr Brennan told the Bunbury Herald, the “criticism” was “unwarranted and unnecessary”.

“I made it quite clear, that common courtesy should have prevailed where any Mayor or the CEO should have been provided with those questions prior to the actual meeting starting,” he said.

“If I had of known what those questions were, I would not have accepted them ... the questions were thinly veiled criticism of city staff which was unwarranted and unnecessary.”

Cr Warnock told the Herald that the questions were not aimed at staff, but at the way the council approached promotion and media.

“The City of Bunbury has missed a valuable and golden opportunity to leverage the Groovin’ the Moo concert to promote Bunbury to a world-wide audience,” she said.

“It is disappointing that the city has not taken full advantage of having world class music acts in town by negotiating with Cattleyard Promotions to organise a significant announcement of our new five year contract.

“This would have attracted State and National media coverage and could have been shared to the act’s social media sites.

“I asked for the city to negotiate these inclusions in the Groovin’ the Moo contract and when it wasn't, asked for it to be requested of Cattleyard when the concert was in Bunbury.

“The city is behind the eight ball with publicity and promotion and we really need to get with the program.”

Responses to the questions taken on notice will be tabled at the council’s next meeting.

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