George Town GM backs ratepayer letters

George Town Council’s general manager John Martin has stood by letters he sent to ratepayers regarding conduct at meetings and towards council officers.

Mr Martin said he had responsibilities to council officers and elected members under the Work Health and Safety Act.

“In brief, to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, their health and safety and to provide a work environment without risks to health and safety,” he said.

“The purpose of the letters was to highlight the inappropriate conduct of the recipients as displayed at a council meeting, outline council’s expectations of conduct for all persons who attend council meetings and point out the relevant work health and safety duties held by the general manager and members of the public who attend council meetings.”

However the two men who received letters, George Town Residents and Ratepayers Association president John Austin and resident Graeme Neilsen, believe their conduct did not amount to a risk to council staff and councillors health and safety.

Mr Austin admits he was wrong to the use the expletive ‘bloody’ and to raise his voice, but said he remained frustrated with a lack of scrutiny of the council.

He said members of the community still had questions about the situation surrounding councillor Richard Nicholls removal from his role in May.

“This council are very adept at not answering questions, especially hard questions, and that was the reason for my disrespectful manner,” Mr Austin said.

Mr Neilsen said he felt the letter he received was a “slight on his character.”

“[Mr Martin] asked me to sign an undertaking as to conduct before I would be permitted to attend council meetings but his claims are unsubstantiated,” Mr Neilsen said.

“No comment is not an answer and if there is no comment there must be a reason for it … we have a right to scrutinise the actions of council.”

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