Dorset mayor Greg Howard has launched an appeal in the administrative division of the Magistrate Court, after the Local Government Code of Conduct panel issued him a caution.
In a determination handed down on October 21, the panel said that Cr Howard had breached Principle 8 of the Code of Conduct, that “a Councillor should respect the role of others in the workplace”.
Principle 8 requires that members of the public be “treated with dignity and respect, whatever the nature of their concerns or views”.
A complaint was lodged against the mayor by Derby resident Peter Coxhead in relation to comments attributed to Cr Howard in The Examiner on February 29.
In reports regarding Forestry Tasmania’s plans to harvest a coupe next to the Blue Derby mountain bike trails, Cr Howard was quoted as saying “When the bikes are costing you $5000 to $10,000, there’s not too many greenies that are on the dole that can afford one of them”.
He was also quoted as saying “It’s just that fringe group sooking about everything the way they normally do’’.
The Code of Conduct panel’s report said that Mr Coxhead felt “disrespected and offended” and he believed the comments were “undignified, disrespectful, unfair, deeply offensive, negative and discriminatory”.
The report said Cr Howard did not deny making the comments but that he said “there was no mention of Mr Coxhead or the residents of the Mutual Valley in my comments because they were not aimed at anyone specifically”.
Four of the alleged breaches were dismissed by the panel due to a lack of evidence, but the panel found that Cr Howard’s comments “are insensitive and disrespectful towards some members of the public sufficient to amount to Mayor Howard showing a lack of respect”.
Cr Howard was contacted and said he was unable to comment as the matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
The Department of Local Government was also contacted for comment.