What’s the price of a bag of lemons?
And when was the last time that question lead to a call for a mayor to resign?
Both of those questions were front and centre of the City of Gosnells’ ordinary council meeting on Tuesday night, when city councillors voted 10-1 to show no confidence in Mayor Glenn Dewhurst.
The single opposing vote came from Mr Dewhurst himself.
That vote had followed a motion from Councillor David Goode – the subject of the “Lemongate” controversy – condemning the mayor for comments reported in the Examiner he had made on social media following an August council meeting, calling on Mr Dewhurst to resign from the position.
The first motion was carried, but the call to resign failed as councillors argued they had no real power to force Mr Dewhurst to step down.
The vote’s bookend almost 12 months of unrest and dissatisfaction with Mr Dewhurst in his position as mayor, something that was expressed with passion by councillors.
The meeting followed recent tumult around a bag of lemons given to Mr Goode by an Orange Grove resident, which lead to Mr Dewhurst filing an official complaint of bribery with the Department of Local Government.
Mr Goode maintains he did not break any laws or codes of conduct.
“On the night of the site visit, 22 June 2018, I had discussed the situation with the director and was advised I was not breaking any rules by accepting a bag of lemons,” he said.
Councillor Ron Mitchell maligned the current perception of the City of Gosnells by both ratepayers and fellow councillors.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s a sad position we’re in,” he said.
“I’ve been here for 20-odd years, I’ve never seen council in this position ever before.”
Councillors Goode, Olwen Searle, Peter Abetz and Dave Griffiths, who all stood throughout the night to argue for the importance of condemning the mayor’s actions, shared the sentiment.
“I have worked with seven mayors, five CEOs and almost 80 fellow councillors, and I stress I have worked with them and they have worked with us,” Ms Searle said.
“Sure, there have been differences along the way, but never was there a vote of no confidence in the mayor.
“We must all realise that history is being made in this chamber tonight.
“For myself, my heart is heavy that it should come to this, in this lovely city that we all love and serve so well.”
Ms Searle accused the mayor of consistently and deliberately breaking the council’s code of conduct by denigrating fellow councillors in the media and online, something, which Mr Abetz said was a completely unacceptable practice in the position.
The former Member for Southern River called attention to Mr Dewhurst’s comments to the media in June, in which he said councillors had shot down attempts to make agreements with investors, which would boost the Gosnells economy.
“There was never a motion here,” he said.
“We were never told what these two investors wanted, what sort of partnership.
“It was a total fabrication.”
Minister for Local Government David Templeman said the Department was currently “dealing with a number of complaints” in relation to the City of Gosnells.
“While the complaints are being assessed it would not be appropriate to comment further,” he said.
Mr Templeman said current legislation aimed at reforming the Local Government Act would ensure more responsibility by elected members.
“Some of these changes include universal training for candidates and council members, council member code of conduct, improvements to CEO recruitment and performance review and a simplified gift framework,” he said.
Mr Dewhurst has been contacted for comment.