Kangaroo Island Mayor Jayne Bates has used her casting vote to prevent the council spending $20,000 on a “partnership building” training course for elected members.
The possibility of a team-building course had been raised in the October meeting last year and recommended by the council’s chief executive officer Andrew Boardman, to facilitate mediation and co-operation between councillors.
The motion had been “laid on the table” but Cr Graham Walkom asked that it be revisited.
Cr Bec Davis said such a course could be valuable but “it is a lot of money”.
Cr Peter Denholm said he had reservations about how such an investment could benefit ratepayers.
“Many of us do not believe that respect, tolerance and other social skills can be taught in a classroom environment. We are not dysfunctional. As a whole we have been constructive and productive,” he said.
Cr Ken Liu said he could see the value of such a course but only after all other issues, such as code of conduct investigations, had been finalised.
Cr Peter Clements agreed. “I have seen this done effectively in the corporate world but not until we have put away all the things that would undermine such an intervention.”
Mr Boardman said if the money was spent now and it solved the problem “it would save us a lot of money.
“If we don’t spend this money, the impact will be continued public dispute and division, legal costs and so on.
“This is an intervention, an opportunity, an investment in our future. We need to draw a line in the sand,” Mr Boardman said.
Cr Walkom said it would be impractical to wait until all the code of conduct issues were resolved. “We could still be sitting here in two-and-a-half years time waiting.”
Crs Walkom, Liu, Clements and Malcolm Boxall voted for the intervention. Crs Davis, Joy Willson, Graeme Connell and Denholm voted against. Cr Rosalie Chirgwin was an apology to the meeting.
Ms Bates said she did not take the casting vote lightly.
“We are grown-ups charged with showing leadership in the community, which we are not doing at the moment.
“If there was intent to improve the situation, we would have seen that already. [If we do the course now] we would be throwing away $20,000.
“I’m voting in the negative but if there’s a change of behaviour and it’s brought back in two months I would vote for it,” Ms Bates said.
“The heartbreak of this situation is the lack of focus on the community and the continued focus on individual agendas.”