While the community continues to express concerns about having a City of Gosnells councillor working and living in Melbourne, public questions about the matter are out of order, according to the mayor.
Councillor Julie Jones has been working in Melbourne as a real estate agent since November last year, while keeping her role as a councillor in the city.
During council meetings, multiple local residents have expressed their disappointment and embarrassment at having a councillor represent ratepayers without even living in the state.
On August 25 community member Leon Walker was not permitted to ask any of his four questions as the mayor said he considered them ‘vexatious’.
The following questions were ruled out during the council meeting: “Can the mayor please give a categorical assurance that Cr Julie Jones living and working in Victoria is in the interests of the residents, ratepayers and electors?” Mr Walker said.
“Did the mayor say to Mrs Baraiolo, or use words to the effect, that he would not allow further public statements about Cr Julie Jones living and working in Victoria because Cr Jones might be upset?
“Did Cr Julie Jones state in this chamber on the evening of October 19 last that she did not want to be a councillor?
“Is Cr Julie Jones remaining a councillor in the interests of the residents, ratepayers and electors or in the interests of Cr Jones and or another person or persons?”Mr Walker’s questions stated.
Under Section 4.5 (6) (b) of the City of Gosnells Standing Orders Local Law 2016, the mayor may decide that a question from a member of the public is out of order, if it is vexatious.
“Under Section 4.5 (1) (b), ‘vexatious’ means ‘a question asked to harass, annoy or cause detriment to any other person’,” Mr Goode said.
“All questions from the public are considered with regard to the Standing Orders Local Law 2016.”
The mayor ruled that Mr Walker’s questions met this definition.
Furthermore, Mr Goode confirmed that councillor Jones had not applied for an exemption to come back to Western Australia.
“Cr Julie Jones has said it is her understanding that her circumstances do not allow for an exemption to enter WA, she has therefore not applied for an exemption,” he said.
“Cr Jones has advised she will be applying for an exemption following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions to Stage 3 in Victoria.
“The easing of Stage 4 restrictions is currently anticipated for September 13.
“Cr Julie Jones was elected to Council until October 2021 and has said she will continue to serve the community until that time.
“She will make a decision about whether to renominate closer to the election date.”
Mr Goode also said no changes were made to the councillor’s $30,000 allowance, and she was entitled to attend meetings electronically under the state government legislation.