Esperance Shire deny 'diluting' local outrage

“I object strongly to that because that is not me, that is not the way I saw the Tuesday Electors meeting.”

Shire president Victoria Brown has denied claims she addressed the motions from the Electors Meeting as having been made by “minority groups”, following a release issued in response to a local radio interview.

In a statement released on February 6, Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty Association chairman Tony Bright said the Shire appeared to be trying to ‘dilute the local outrage’ and the interview had drawn a ‘critical rebuke’.

“Trying to whitewash the meeting's outcome by diminishing the total impact of what was overwhelmingly endorsed at the meeting is typical of the current situation where this Council is considered to be "on the nose",” he said.

“Playing semantics with the motions to diminish their impact seems typical of how Councillors refuse to deal openly and honestly with community concerns.”

Having ‘applauded’ those who had attended the meeting, Ms Brown refuted claims that she used the word ‘minority’ in that context. 

“I have always publicly and privately stated that this is democracy at work,” she said.

“I don’t know where this quote has come from because we can’t find it on my radio interview and, as a Council group, we never even spoke about the Electors Meeting until last Friday.

“That is just stirring the pot; taking a comment I never made and trying to infer that I made that comment.”

Ms Brown said she was ‘appalled’ by the statement, questioning the intent of the document’s producer.

“It is total and utter rubbish and I would say that is someone who is trying to stir the pot,” she said.

“I believe the intent of this release is to undermine the Shire, the Council and my position and to confuse and misinform the public and it is not getting us anywhere at all.”

Mr Bright referred to the ‘Save our Jetty’ petition in the statement, addressing the petition’s 8,320 signatures as ‘hardly the bleat of a minority few’. 

“Only the Shire rejects the idea of a cost-effective rebuild that retains the jetty structure's cultural fabric and its marketing appeal to attract visitors to our town and keep them here,” he said.

Ms Brown dismissed claims the petition had acquired 8,320 signatures, urging the community to assess the petition for themselves via the Shire of Esperance website.

“Whilst I agree that thousands of signatures on a petition is, to quote Mr Bright, ‘hardly the bleat of a minority few’, they are constantly saying that 8,320 people signed that petition - that is not true,” she said.

“I urge the community members who want the facts to go onto our website and have a look at that petition, it’s on there – openly and accountably.”

Shire chief executive officer Matthew Scott confirmed the documents regarding the Jetty petition were publicly available.

Mr Bright also said any lack of an ‘immediate open and accountable’ response from the councillors to the outcomes of last Tuesday night’s meeting would likely lead to another Elector’s Meeting being called in a ‘matter of weeks’.

Ms Brown said she applauded the attendees during the interview and did not believe she said anything detrimental about the groups.

“The only comment I did make was the fact that I personally thought the comments made regarding the chief executive officer were a witch hunt,” she said.

“He is someone I work with a lot and he is a man of high integrity, morals and good intent and I have seen nothing to prove otherwise and if they have something to prove otherwise, put it on the table.

“At the moment, it’s all talk and undermining and claims and views with nothing concrete to present.”

The Annual Electors Meeting on January 30 saw around 200 people attend, with the majority passing five motions on a number of local issues.

The motions will be dealt with in a Special Council Meeting at a date yet to be confirmed.