As a failed candidate for Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 2001 and with no
other experience in the local government sector, it was a little
surprising to be asked to lecture a bunch of Victorian councillors next weekend about how to behave.

And what a lecture to the Municipal Association of Victoria gathering
at Lorne’s Cumberland Resort it will be. There’s a 45-minute keynote address
on Saturday
morning which has been marketed “Ethics and Behaviour: How to Stay Out
of Trouble”, followed by a 105-minute workshop which has been billed as
follows:

Doing the right thing: the day-to-day dilemmas of a councillor

The role of councillor is filled with opportunities to get you on the
front page of the local paper, both good and bad. Navigating the
day-to-day dilemmas of local government is part of the challenge of
being an effective councillor. This engaging and entertaining workshop
will explore several common moral and behavioural dilemmas that face
councillors including managing expenses, handling interest and conflict
of interest, dealing with fellow councillors’ bad behaviour and
managing relationships with the media. Participants will work through
real-life case studies and wrestle with the question: what’s the right
thing to do? Warning, there will be robust discussion and laughter in
this workshop.

In preparing for this largish exercise, the Crikey Army is being enlisted to build a list of the 100
biggest personal scandals that have hit councillors across Australia
over the 20 years. Forget about policy outcomes, this is all about
councillor biffo, expense rorting, conflicts of interest, bad behaviour
and any other “scandal” which has generated media attention. Here are
five names to kick it off:

Frank De Stefano: the former Geelong Mayor pleaded guilty yesterday to seven counts of stealing
from private and commercial investors between October 1995 and April
2000.

Alison Grosse: the only local government figure who cracked Australian Story which billed the former Maroochy Shire mayor in 2003 as someone who was “accused of prostituting herself, sharing
lovers with her daughter, and even having a husband who was a drug dealer.”

George Harrison:
The Labor mayor of Wollongong resigned in disgrace in 2002 after being declared bankrupt.

Adam McCormic: the former Rockdale councillor in Sydney was found guilty of soliciting bribes and lying to the Independent Commission
against Corruption last year.

Gary Singer: John So’s deputy Lord Mayor in Melbourne has justifiably copped a sustained campaign from the Herald Sun after admitting to financial
“irregularities’ by withholding $126,000 in cheques due to be paid by his law firm Simon Parsons.

Please send all entries to [email protected] and we’ll aim to have 100 names up on the website by next Friday.

Peter Fray

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