Council told to run AGM again
Belconnen Community Council president Shirley Gourgaud. Photo: Rowena Dennis
The struggle for control of Belconnen Community Council is set for another round, with the ACT government's Justice Department ordering that last year's allegedly stacked general meeting be held again.
The department's Office of Regulatory Services has even suggested that the council's warring parties go to mediation.
The row has been rumbling since the Canberra Liberals' candidate, Matthew Watts, won the presidency of the council in September in a meeting that predecessor Shirley Gourgaud and supporters claimed was stacked.
When Mrs Gourgaud was re-instated by another meeting in November, Mr Watts refused to accept the second result and the council was left with two contenders for president, each declaring themselves the rightful holder of the position.
The Office of Regulatory Services was called in by the council officer Brian Rhynehart, who complained that the September meeting was void because of a technicality - the failure to provide the previous year's financial returns in the correct form.
Registrar-General Brett Phillips has decided that the results of the September AGM are void and ordered the council to hold another meeting.
''The second AGM is an opportune time for the association to attempt to resolve the current issues relating to the election of office holders,'' Mr Phillips wrote.
''Alternatively, in circumstances where there are two or more parties with conflicting perspectives, it is sometimes more helpful for independent mediation to be conducted between the parties.''
Ms Gourgard declined to comment on Friday.
Mr Watts said the council had to move on from the dispute. ''We must look to the future,'' he said.
''Naturally, I respect the decision of ORS; it was a complex issue and I suspect they decided a new AGM would provide stability to the group. Many questions about the 2011-2012 administration remain unanswered, yet I believe a new AGM is the right thing to do in the circumstances.''