Mayor Liz Campbell confronted a motion of no confidence at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of Kempsey Shire Council.
The motion introduced by Cr Leo Hauville, who alleged Cr Campbell had broken proper meeting procedure to prevent him having his say on certain issues, threatened to divide, disrupt and derail council.
However, the reverse seemed to occur as the majority of remaining councillors were galvanised, throwing their collective weight behind Cr Campbell.
One of those backing the mayor was Cr Sue McGinn.
Prior to the vote, Cr McGinn said it must be remembered the mayor was elected by the people of the shire with a large majority and could not be removed by a single councillor.
“It is undemocratic for a councillor to bully an elected representative into trying to make them resign,” she said.
Cr McGinn said Cr Campbell demonstrated leadership not only by chairing a number of committees and maintaining a professional working relationship with council, but also through the way she carried herself in the public domain.
“Our mayor is a great ambassador for the Macleay Valley,” she said.
“She exemplifies leadership.
“Leadership is not just about what happens in the council chamber.
“It’s about having a presence and decorum.
“Leadership is not about bringing your team into disrepute. It’s not about tearing people down, conducting character assassinations on Facebook or exorcising someone you don’t agree with.”
She said Cr Campbell devoted full-time hours to a part-time position, and advanced community cohesion and civic awareness by attending community meetings and events for a variety of organisations and occasions.
“She acts as the governing body’s spokesperson and communicates with the community via regular mayoral radio interviews and her regular mayor’s newspaper column,” Cr McGinn said.
“She lobbies State and Federal Members to advance projects for the Macleay.”
Cr McGinn said the mayor had also demonstrated a commitment to listen to community members with diverse views as evidenced by her separate meetings with the Kempsey Flying Club and the Save Kempsey Airport Action Group in recent weeks.
In response to Cr Hauville’s allegation of procedure abuse, Cr McGinn said any perceived dysfunction in the workings of council meetings had been brought about by individual councillors who were being disruptive and did not seem to understand democratic process or accept decision making outcomes at the conclusion of debate.
“It is up to the councillors to work in council to proactively and efficiently engage in appropriate meeting practices rather than frustrate processes,” Cr McGinn said.
‘It is important to point out our meetings are conducted with the assistance and advice from the general manager and directors, and this advice has been sought regularly of late.”
Cr McGinn said wasting time on matters about the people on council was not adding value to the community and took the focus away from important decision making.
“It gives terrible messages to the community and to council staff to see their elected leaders talking about each other,” she said.
“Come on, we need to rise above this.
“We need to talk to each other if there’s a problem.”
In conclusion, Cr McGinn said she had absolute confidence in Cr Campbell’s leadership as she argued the meeting code of practice be amended so that future motions of no confidence are ruled out of order.