By Andrew Cantwell
There was high drama at Tuesday night’s Casey Council special budget meeting when gallery regular John Glazebrook was booted from the chamber after ugly altercations with the mayor and a security guard.
Mayor Amanda Stapledon, perhaps anticipating trouble, had earlier made it clear to those wishing to speak on their budget submission that Casey was a respectful council, and disparaging comments towards the council or officers would not be tolerated.
Mr Glazebrook fell afoul of the mayor’s caution from his opening words.
“I’m disappointed,” he said, “that four councillors haven’t turned up for this budget meeting.”
He was promptly warned by the mayor that those comments were considered disparaging, and then urged to speak to his submission.
Things went downhill from there.
With his voice raised, Mr Glazebrook again launched into the council.
The mayor again stopped Mr Glazebrook and asked him to take a seat while another submission was heard.
“I’ll give you five minutes to think about your behaviour,” the mayor said.
But Mr Glazebrook wasn’t about to yield the floor. Rising to his feet, he protested and shouted that the instruction showed how authoritarian the council really was.
While the mayor tried to bring Mr Glazebrook to order, a security guard then made his way over to where Mr Glazebrook was standing.
Turning to the guard, Mr Glazebrook demanded to know: “Are you standing there to intimidate me”.
That was the last straw for the mayor, who promptly ordered him from the chamber.
Mr Glazebrook grabbed his papers and flanked now by two security guards was marched from the meeting room.
Mr Glazebrook’s substantive issues in the submission he never got to speak to revolved around council ‘junkets’, the council’s China engagement policy, renewable power and social housing issues.
Casey Residents and Ratepayers Association spokesman Brendan Browne was also given a caution before giving the association’s report card on the budget, stressing the budget should be affordable, the rate rise at a minimum – not maximum – level permitted, and that councillors could earn a five-star rating by adopting the several recommendations in the CRRA submission.
By far the best reception was for three speakers asking for better facilities at Berwick’s Edwin Flack Reserve – home of the state’s second largest Little Athletics group.
The club is host to almost 500 kids, was the second largest sporting group in Casey behind Berwick Junior Soccer Club, hosted numerous regional events involving close to 700 participants – all in facilities that were too small, too old and poorly provisioned by the council.
The reserve was, they indicated, a poor second cousin to the cutting-edge Casey Fields reserve which had had lavish attention from the council to date.
The points were well made and the speakers thanked for their presentations.
The council received 11 submissions on the draft budget.
All will be considered by the council before next week’s regular meeting where a revised draft budget is expected to be adopted.