“I have nothing further to add,” Councillor Nicholson said during public question time at the council meeting held on September 18, in response to a question from the New Norfolk NewsBlogger. With no evidence that any statement had been published or broadcast, the NNNewsBlogger had asked the mayor whether he would like to take the opportunity presented by the council meeting to make an announcement about the general manager’s reappointment.
The issue has simmered since February, when the mayor announced the search for a new general manager, telling the Derwent Valley Gazette that this was a legislative requirement. The existing general manager was welcome to apply, Cr Nicholson said at the time. But with no job advertisement being published in the intervening months, the public began to question the process but the council maintained its silence.
The matter exploded at the budget meeting on June 26, when deputy mayor Scott Shaw refused to vote for the council’s annual plan because he believed the council was not being open with the public, particularly in relation to the reappointment of the general manager. He was supported by Cr Richard Parker who said it had been two months since the general manager was reappointed and yet there had been no public announcement. The July 2 issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette reported the mayor saying that a statement would be made “soon”.
The NNNewsBlogger attended a community forum at Granton in August and asked when the council would announce the appointment of a general manager. Cr Nicholson said he had already made his statement and it had been published in the press. All other councillors present remained silent, with the exception of Cr Jim Elliott, who agreed that he had seen the newspaper article referred to.
In an email to the NNNewsBlogger, Cr Nicholson later said his statement had been made to the ABC, not the print media. Despite this, Cr Elliott maintained that he had seen the item in the Gazette. When clarification on this matter was sought at the September 18 council meeting, Cr Nicholson confirmed that his statement had been made to reporter Charles Waterhouse and broadcast on the ABC. When informed that Mr Waterhouse was a journalist with the Mercury newspaper and not the ABC, the mayor said he may have got the reporter’s name wrong. He maintained that he had been called by the ABC, but had not heard the broadcast himself.
The NNNewsBlogger said a search of the ABC news website had not turned up the mayor’s statement, and, as the mayor had not heard the broadcast himself, perhaps he would like to make his announcement to the meeting in progress. “I have nothing further to add,” Cr Nicholson said.