The Canberra Times has the intriguing news that Liberal Assembly candidate Matt Watts has been deposed from the presidency of the hotly contested Belconnen Community Council:
Ms Gourgard told The Canberra Times today that the council had been advised by the Office of Regulatory Services (ORS) that the September election, and Mr Watts’ nomination, was not in accordance with the council’s rules.
Ms Gourgard said this morning that she and her supporters had been working for two months on overturning the September result and had been advised by ORS that Mr Watts’s nomination for council president, declared just minutes before the September vote, was invalid.
UPDATE 21/11/12 13:42: This defiant statement by president Watts was left in the comments:
“The media release issued on 21 November 2012 under the auspices of the Belconnen Community Council was not authorised by the Belconnen Community Council.
In September, an Annual General Meeting was held at which Mr Matt Watts was elected President. Several weeks later, the out-going President and several other members unhappy at the election result announced that the ex-President was still President.
The dispute concerns whether the President was properly elected. The outgoing president contends that the Model Rules should be followed to determine who is President. The other view is that the BCC Constitution is valid and was followed correctly to elect a new President.
At the AGM, the BCC Public Officer accepted a late nomination for the position of President. By accepting this nomination, in accordance with the BCC constitution, the outcome was legitimate.
This was discussed at a committee meeting in October and a decision was taken to seek advice from the Office of Regulatory Services on this matter. Any further actions or public comment would only be made following receipt of this advice, and further discussion by the BCC Committee.
The President of the BCC then wrote to the Office of Regulatory Services to seek clarification. The advice received from the ORS was:
• The Model Rules apply if there is no Constitution.
• The BCC Constitution has been in place for many years and is in effect.
Following receipt of this advice, the Vice President and Public Officer (the same person) refused to discuss the matter any further with the President. At some point last week, the President attempted to login to the BCC email account and discovered he no longer had access. On or about the 14th of November, the BCC email account was illegally accessed and permissions changed to deny the President access. A series of emails was then issued, without authorisation by the Vice President.
Based on this action, the President has asked the Vice President to resign from his position as Public Officer.
These actions by the Vice President and Public Officer were taken despite an agreement at the Committee meeting that discussion would occur following receipt of advice from the Office of Regulatory Services. As the advice has not conformed to their view, the ex-President and Vice President have acted as if the election results never occurred.
One of these unauthorised emails announced that there would be a Public Meeting of the Belconnen Community Council. This was not an official meeting, and was not authorised by the President or the Committee. The meeting notice was not provided as required by the BCC Constitution. As such, the meeting held on 20 November 2012 cannot be considered an official BCC meeting, and no resolutions discussed or passed at that meeting can be construed as official positions of the BCC.
A Committee meeting of the Belconnen Community Council has been arranged where this matter will be resolved. At this meeting the BCC committee members will discuss the advice from the Office of Regulatory Services and other matters concerning the governance of the Belconnen Community Council. This is the course of action agreed upon at the previous BCC Committee meeting by both the President and the members who disputed the result. This meeting will still occur, and will be attended by members of the Belconnen Community Council.
This is a sad and unfortunate situation brought about by the failure of some people to recognise the results of an election. While these people have been agitating to ensure that their social club continued, the new president has already taken steps to work on the agenda he put forward at the September AGM where he was elected. This includes distributing a survey to small businesses in Belconnen with the view to establishing the views of small business in respect to the future of Belconnen, establishing a joint committee with the Gungahlin Community Council, commencing discussion on a new constitution, obtaining last year’s financial audit and beginning preliminary work on the new Belconnen Master Plan.“
Matt Watts JP
Belconnen Community Council
UPDATE 23/11/12 09:53: Justice and Community Safety have now made a statement contradicting some of the earlier reporting.