Statement from Mayor Geoff Lake

 29 June 2016

council chamber

I have asked Council officers to conduct an audit of councillor attendances at Council meetings over the course of this Council term.

This is because I have become alarmed at the attendance record of some councillors and, in particular, the approach that some councillors are taking in either providing no prior apology when they are absent from a Council meeting or providing unreasonable or insufficient notice of a planned extended absence.

As I expressed at last night’s Council meeting, I am frustrated that a small number of councillors do not appear to be showing the professional courtesy to Council or the community they represent by providing an apology in advance of meetings which they are unable to attend.

I am dismayed that Cr Theo Zographos has missed four scheduled meetings of Council in a row over the past month without so much as an explanation or an apology.  I have no idea where in the world Cr Zographos is – whether he is here in Melbourne or if he is somewhere overseas.

As a councillor he is entitled to reasonable periods of leave away from his duties but just like an employee in any workplace, he is expected to notify his colleagues and our community of any absence in advance.  It is just common courtesy.

Section 65 of the Local Government Act sets out that the role of a councillor is to participate in the decision-making of the Council, to represent the local community in that decision-making and to contribute to the strategic direction of the council.  This section also provides that a councillor must observe principles of good governance and act with integrity.  I am concerned that Cr Zographos is not acting in accordance with his obligations under this section given his ongoing unexplained absence from Council.

Similarly, I was also disappointed to receive notice in passing from Cr Robert Davies via email at 4.02 pm yesterday – less than four hours prior to the meeting – that he was overseas on a family holiday and would not be attending the meeting. 

His email was only sent in response to an email I had sent him to clarify a serious matter concerning him relating to Council business last night which he was expected to respond to at the meeting.

All councillors have a responsibility to Council and our community to perform their obligations in a professional manner.  Missing multiple meetings with no advance apology and not providing reasonable notice of an extended period of leave should not have to be tolerated. 

I have emailed both Cr Zographos and Cr Davies this morning seeking further information from them in relation to these matters.  This is an issue I will report further on to the Monash community following the completion of the audit by Council officers.

Media Contact: Geoff Lake 0411 645 281 or Geoff.Lake@monash.vic.gov.au

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