Mayor ‘not campaigning’ in council car

AT the conclusion of an already tense Central Highlands Council meeting yesterday, a question about the use of a council vehicle during the current state election campaign received a sharp response from mayor Loueen Triffitt, who is an independent candidate for one of the seven seats available in the division of Lyons.

“As you’ve been going around and campaigning as an independent candidate, have you been using the council car – because this council and ratepayers are ultimately paying for insurance, fuel, wear and tear, tyres, oil, relating to that vehicle?” Cr Robert Cassidy asked during “other business” at the end of yesterday’s meeting agenda.

Cr Triffitt’s response suggested she had been waiting for such a question. “Yes, I was wondering which councillor would use this moment to attempt to actually bruise my integrity as mayor,” she said. That response took at least one councillor by surprise. While Cr Cassidy attempted to say he was just asking the question, Cr Tony Bailey asked for the answer to be repeated. “What was that, mayor, I’m sorry, what did you just say?” he said.

Cr Triffitt repeated the statement while Cr Cassidy said he was not trying to do what the mayor had asserted. “Let me answer, please,” Cr Triffitt said, going on to say the Tasmanian Electoral Commission had confirmed she would not need to step down as mayor during the campaign.

“For your information I have not had time to campaign and due to my role as mayor it has not allowed me time to campaign and I obviously would not use the council car and I will continue to use the council car as mayor whilst I am mayor, so I hope that clears up any questions around the table and talking behind my back for some councillors.”

Cr Robert Cassidy.

The exchange followed a heated and lengthy closed council meeting that went for nearly two hours and resulted in Cr Cassidy being ejected from that meeting. One of the listed agenda items was headed “general manager’s performance review” and raised voices could be heard from outside.

When the meeting resumed in public a short while later, general manager Kim Hossack was not present and a staff member said Ms Hossack had been bitten by a wasp during the interval. The meeting resumed without the presence of a council executive until deputy general manager Adam Wilson arrived to take Ms Hossack’s place.

Ms Hossack returned to the meeting room just after the above exchange between Cr Triffitt and Cr Cassidy but did not take her seat at the table. She sat near the door and asked to speak to councillors privately after the meeting. Ms Hossack was the first to leave the room afterwards, shortly followed by Cr Triffitt who walked away saying “not good, not good.”

Main picture: Cr Loueen Triffitt addressing yesterday’s Central Highlands Council meeting.

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