Council meeting suspended over question time row

Ben Shaw, right, leaving the chair after adjourning last night’s
council meeting for 30 minutes.

LAST night’s Derwent Valley Council meeting was suspended for 30 minutes after the mayor refused to allow a personal statement to be made during public question time.

After dealing with several questions from local residents, mayor Ben Shaw said he would not allow a public statement from Mr Len Butterworth.

The council requires all questions and statements to be provided in writing 10 minutes before the meeting, and Cr Shaw had discussed Mr Butterworth’s statement with general manager Greg Winton just before opening the proceedings in the New Norfolk Courthouse last night.

Cr Shaw said Mr Butterworth’s statement did not relate to council business and would not be heard. “I won’t be taking the statement because it’s against our [meeting] conduct and it’s not relevant to council business,” he said.

Mr Butterworth attempted to make his statement regardless, despite repeated warnings from the mayor. Cr Shaw eventually banged his gavel, rose to his feet and adjourned the meeting for half an hour. With Mr Butterworth continuing his statement about seating at an AFL match, and ignoring requests to leave the room, the mayor then asked all the councillors to leave.

The council chamber after it was vacated by the councillors.

Most council staff also left the room, leaving behind the general manager and about 10 people in the public gallery.  After 30 minutes the meeting resumed without further incident and at the close of proceedings Cr Shaw apologised to those people in the gallery who were genuinely interested in council business and not there to cause trouble.

Cr Shaw later said Mr Butterworth’s comments had related to a personal Facebook post where he had asked if any of his contacts could help with “some members or good family tickets” to an AFL match. There is no suggestion of impropriety on the mayor’s part.

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