Keith Fagg’s statement
Former Geelong mayor Keith Fagg submitted the following statement in response to Cr Stretch Kontelj’s assertions about bullying:
Councillor Stretch Kontelj is entitled to his opinion and I appreciate his concern. However, the factors leading to the stress I experienced and my subsequent decision to resign were multifaceted.
My original decision to stand for election as mayor was all and only about serving the Geelong community. I did not expect or understand the overarching political dimension or dynamic the role involved, which ... I should have.
While most aspects of being mayor were wonderful and a great privilege, it became progressively clear during those nine months that a political life was not for me, certainly not how it is played out in Geelong council. My DNA was not geared for the conflict, agendas and mind games which some seemed to enjoy.
Council was unlike any previous board or governing body I had experienced. At times, discussion on issues could not be regarded as of a proper standard for good governance and often a collegiate approach was not apparent.
As Cr Jock Irvine said this week the words and behaviour of some — but by no means all — councillors on some occasions were poor and intimidatory. In response, councillors could initiate code of conduct inquiries ... but, in my view, a judicial approach would do nothing to solve such issues around the council chamber.
If councillors could not genuinely fulfil the key CoGG value of respect, which is written large on the council chamber wall, then the culture of the rest of the organisation risks being in serious trouble, signs of which are now becoming very apparent.