City of Gosnells mayor Glenn Dewhurst posted a public message on his personal Facebook page last week attacking The Examiner for what he has described as “poor and bad behaviour.”
The post related to a story The Examiner ran about a proposed motion by councillor Olwen Searle regarding alleged breaches of the City’s code of conduct.
Mayor Dewhurst’s post was later removed.
In her proposed motion, councillor Searle cited what she claimed were several breaches of the City’s Code of Conduct, including ‘a development application for a telecommunications tower submitted in his daughter’s name’, ‘sharing a post by the group Anti-Islam Australia’, email responses to councillors and ‘alleged vitriolic attacks’ on fellow councillors and head of ratepayer’s group Leon Walker, which according to councillor Searle was ‘an attempt to harass and intimidate both Mr Walker and I.’
Several councillors and members of the public have since called and writtten to the paper.
Gosnells councillor Peter Abetz referred to the Mayor’s actions as ‘regrettable.’
“It is regrettable that the mayor afterwards posted an item on Facebook, which he subsequently removed, in which he vilified Chloe Vellinga’s report and your newspaper,” councillor Abetz’s email said.
“Sadly, a number of people posted comments to that post, also claiming the article had misrepresented the mayor, when they had not even been at the meeting.
“Anyone can read the agenda items for that meeting and the minutes of the council meeting on the City of Gosnells website and verify that Chloe Vellinga wrote a very accurate and objective report of what happened,” councillor Abetz said.
Councillor David Goode said he had questions for the mayor regarding the post, including why the post was deleted.
“I am annoyed at the post because I believe it is a retraction of an apology… the post was against our code of conduct,” he said.
“Attacking the journalist over factual reporting of what happened, I mean ‘why shoot the messenger?
“Councillor Olwen Searle withdrew the initial motion but clearly he did not mean the apology because he then posted on Facebook.”
Ms Searle said she was aware of the Facebook post and the comments of support towards the mayor.
“The mayor tends to obfuscate the real issue by introducing unrelated material but he needs to keep to the point and concentrate only on the question of his own conduct,” she said.
“I believe that the behaviour of the mayor ought to be exemplary and he should adhere to the Code in every respect.”
Mr Dewhurst told The Examiner he did not regret putting up the post on Facebook and said he had a lot of support from the community.
“The reason I removed it was because some people were making negative statements about other people and that’s not what I wanted,” he said.
“I just wanted to highlight that the story was wrong and wasn’t true.”
Ms Searle reiterated that the mayor must take full responsibility for his personal behaviour and she was keeping her options open in regards to reintroducing the motion to council.
“My motion was to see an apology and not a ‘statement of regret’,” she said.
“The statement he issued was that he regretted how we felt but not that he regrets, apologises or is sorry for his own behaviour.”