Long word of the law
A POLICY update Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox says will create a safer working environment has been backed by the council, despite a late push to have it rewritten to sound less aggressive.
The updated legal representation policy – a guide to the level of support offered to councillors and City employees who become involved in legal proceeding in the course of their jobs – was supported 63 after about 50 minutes of debate on April 17.
Dr Silcox said staff had been assaulted and threatened by members of the community and revisions were needed to support employees.
“The situations I’ve given you and one I can’t even describe – it’s horrific – are happening,” he told council.
“It’s not about targeting certain groups as (some councillors) might think; I want to provide a safe workplace.”
A talking point on the night, as it was during a briefing earlier this month, was point 1C of the policy.
Some councillors believed one line would potentially see members of the community
sued for simply speaking out against the local government.
Councillor Katy Mair asked for a deferral so the policy could be rewritten.
She said that was “not because I’m against the intent of what (the policy is) trying to do but I am concerned about how it’s written”.
“I do find it an aggressive policy,” she said.
Also speaking against it, Cr Nick Pazolli said there was a wide range of legal, police or complaints processes in place that council or the individuals could call on.
He said changes could convert a defensive policy that protected City councillors and staff into an attacking one.
Melville Council wants to create a safer workplace.