Cr Rankin survives 'back-door shot'

A MOTION of no confidence against Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin failed during a narrow vote last week, but not without verbal reprimands from his fellow councillors.

Councillor Kellie Marsh raised the motion after the deputy mayor allegedly threatened Stop the Hub co-convener Harry Gooden at a public meeting last month.

Despite accusations of a political attack before the meeting, Cr Marsh emphasised the motion was not personal or political.

"Harry Gooden is known to me and I must say he has a precious place in my heart, but he was threatened at a public meeting by the deputy mayor and the office of deputy mayor was brought into disrepute," she said.

"I would feel exactly the same way if this was my father who was threatened, a loved one or someone I didn't know."

Councillor Helen Stewart said the incident was a case of "putting the big foot in the big mouth" and said personal feelings had no place in the chamber.

"There's some bad feeling between some councillors but the minute that you walk into this chamber and you make it personal you lose all sense of reasoning, it clouds your judgment," she said. "You are not making decisions on what's in front of you.

"We make it personal and we lose sight - it's not what we're here for.

"This taking sides business is something that happens in the playground."

With Mayor Marianne Saliba absent, councillors were split three-all on whether to support the motion, and as the acting chairman, Cr Rankin used his casting vote to defeat the motion.

He did not have to declare an interest in the motion because it related to his ability to carry out a public duty, not a private interest where he could benefit from a third party.

Even if passed, the motion would have had no legal standing because councillors cannot sanction each other under the Local Government Act.

After the meeting, Cr Rankin said the motion was a "back-door way of people trying to have a shot".

"If they were that concerned, why didn't they . . . say 'let's get councillors together and talk about behaviour', but that wasn't put forward," he said.

"You don't have to like the people you work with, but if they bring something good to the table you support it, simple as that."

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