At Lane Cove Council’s October Meeting, Councillor Karola Brent moved a notice of motion calling on Lane Cove Council to declare a no-tolerance policy after recent incidents where Mayor Pam Palmer has been subjected to harassment, bullying and intimidation.
The motion was unanimously supported by all Lane Cove Councillors. The motion called for no tolerance of behaviour that is intimidating, threatening, abusive or entices hatred and damage to private or public property or personally targets elected representatives and Lane Cove Council, officers.
Recent unacceptable behaviour has included:
- Damaging Mayor Pam Palmer’s family home and personal property
- Hate Mail (addressed to Mayor Pam Palmer’s family home)
- Conduct of such a serious nature that it has been referred to North Shore Police Area Command for investigation.
The NSW Police Media Unit has confirmed a report has been received and they are conducting inquiries.
In recent weeks, other Councillors have also been subjected to personal verbal attacks.
The Lane Cove Council has been extremely busy lately and several proposals have been controversial and divided residents. Proposals and projects include:
- St Leonard’s South Master Plan – Supporting a proposal to rezone land to enable high rise development in a traditional residential area
- Lane Cove Golf Club redevelopment – local residents are concerned about the noise from a possible driving range and increases in traffic volumes.
- Installing a roundabout at the corner of Northwood Road and River Road (that might necessitate land compulsory acquisition)
- Reconfiguring the Kingsford Smith Oval Gates so that on certain hours it is no longer an enclosed space to enable dogs to be off-leash;
- Installing a synesthetic field at Bob Campbell Oval (not all parents and dog owners are supportive of a synthetic playing field, they would rather natural grass.)
- 266 Longueville Road – Lane Cove Council has entered into an agreement with an aged care/senior housing operator to construct a development – neighbours would prefer the green space remains.
The Notice of Motion reads as per below:
RESOLVED on the motion of Councillors Brent and Bennison that Council:-
- Representing the whole of the Lane Cove community declares it’s no tolerance for intimidating, threatening or psychologically abusive behaviour, or behaviour that entices hatred and results in damage of privately owned or public property, and that personally targets elected representatives and officials of Lane Cove Council. Standing for office or being elected to one should not entail being the subject of such behaviours in our community.
- Modify its Payment of Expenses and Provision of Facilities to Councillors Policy to include, where the General Manager thinks necessary, provision of security measures for a Councillor and if necessary undertake community consultation.
Last year the Sydney Morning Herald ran an opinion piece on why local councillors deserved to be paid more. ITC published a link to this article and made the observation that local councillors’ remuneration does not match the hours spent working on council issues, attending council functions and liaising with residents.
An extract from the article is below:
“So why would you be a councillor? Sydney councillors are typically paid between $20,000 and $35,000 a year. For that money, they are expected to read hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents every couple of weeks. They are expected to attend formal meetings, workshops with council staff, and events with the local community.”
No one should be subject to harassment for performing a civic role. Councillor Brent said in the meeting: “This is not the Lane Cove I know or the Lane Cove I like to serve”
ITC spoke to Pam Palmer about this incident and her wish is for people to “be kind”. She wants people to know she is working long hours for Lane Cove residents and at the end of the day, she is one person on a nine-person council who votes on decisions.
Harassment of elected officials is not uncommon.
Last year our state member Anthony Roberts advised In the Cove he had received a phone call which threatened the safety of his family. The threatening call was taken by one of Mr Robert’s staff. Due to the nature of the call Mr Roberts had no alternative but to refer the matter to police. The caller did not specify why the threats were being made. A man from Hornsby was arrested in relation to this call. Read more here.
Our cover photo features Lane Cove Mayor Pam Palmer and Trent Zimmerman
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