Second councillor stands down

Anne Salt, left, and Rachel Power at a
council meeting earlier this year.

BUSINESSWOMAN Rachel Power has announced her intention to resign from the Derwent Valley Council, becoming the second local councillor to stand down this year.

Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Mrs Power said she had written to mayor Ben Shaw to thank him and the majority of councillors for their support and advise of her resignation.

The move comes three months after Anne Salt resigned from the council and less than a year after the present council was elected.

ABC Mornings presenter Leon Compton said regular listeners to his program or any of its news channels or social media would be aware of Mrs Power as a tourism operator and employer of local people, who “promotes a region as well as anyone I can think of or name.”

Mrs Power said she had been discussing her future on the council with her husband for the last six weeks. “There’s been a number of personal attacks from people that I just didn’t expect it from. It’s one thing to read what people say about council, it’s another thing to see what they say about you personally. And these are people that I thought knew me better.”

She said all of the councillors were probably wondering why they had sought election last year, but she was resigning for her personal health and the health of her family. “I’ve lost two close family members in the last few months and I don’t have enough passion to keep going when people tear me down. Not any more. It will come back, and who knows then.”

Mrs Power said she did not want to blame any individual for her decision because it had come from an accumulation of many things, but the final straw was on Saturday when a friend questioned her motives as a councillor.

Mr Compton said the allegation was of corruption. “This was an accusation that you weren’t acting because you agreed or had a different strategic way of thinking about an issue, and what we’re talking about is an allocation of around $5000 dollars for tourism funding is the specific issue. This was accusing you of corruption or being, you know, part of some sort of systemic problem,” he said.

Mrs Power said she had been accused of running her own agenda and not acting in the interests of the community, but she had published a post on Facebook showing that this was incorrect.

Rachel Power speaking at this month’s council meeting.

Referring to sexually suggestive social media posts about councillors, Mr Compton said there appeared to be significant number of people in the local community who felt that the standards of personal conduct did not apply to them. “I can’t imagine what it is like to know that people are stooping to that level and thinking it’s okay to publish that sort of thing in your community,” he said.

Mrs Power said the problem had been evident during last year’s council election campaign. “I could see what social media was doing and there was other candidates who were trying to tear each other apart and personal issues were aired, very personal issues, on quite a few of the candidates,” she said.

Mr Compton asked what it was like being on the Derwent Valley Council at present. “It feels like, and we are reporting on a lot of the noise, the allegations of disquiet, the anonymous letter that was sent from staff advocating for the sacking of the mayor only a week or two ago, what is it like on council at the moment?”

“Working as a councillor, fabulous. Working with most of the other councillors is fantastic, and it’s productive,” she said. “But when we then have to look at what we can’t say or what we can’t do because we’re not allowed to, that’s where this is coming from.

“So we can’t release the findings of the goose report. We’ve explained why we can’t do, that because we’re waiting on the investigation from DPIPWE. That is a natural progression of justice. You don’t talk about things until you’ve got all the facts, that’s everything is all about that. But that’s not what the public wants. The public wants blood. They want people to be sacked. They want people to resign. They want people out.

“And so those people who are very very keen on destabilising our entire community, but really pulling apart the council group, and I’m not talking about the staff here. This is not about the staff. This is coming from a councillor level and this is coming from people who want to be sitting at that table and they’re not.

“And when you see things being leaked from closed council meetings, then you know that someone around the table is part of that narrative and that’s disappointing.”
Mrs Power said she had been able to achieve good things during her time as a councillor and was happy to have been able to help her community during this year’s bushfires.

Listen to the full interview here.

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