NB: This press release was provided by the City of Greater Geraldton. A follow up story included a response from Ms Ellis will be published shortly.
City of Greater Geraldton Chief Executive Officer Ken Diehm has served notice on Ms Renee Ellis advising her that she has been disqualified from continuing as a Councillor.
The notice was given today due to the former Councillor’s unapproved absence at three consecutive ordinary Meetings of Council.
Mr Diehm said he had no discretion in the matter and was obligated to issue a notice of disqualification under sections of the Local Government Act.
“Ms Ellis failed to obtain leave of absence from the Council for the meetings held on 22 March, 26 April and 24 May 2016, which under Section 2.25 (4) of the Local Government Act disqualifies her from continuing her membership of the Council,” he said.
“Under Section 2.27 (3) of the Local Government Act I am obligated to issue a notice of disqualification.”
Ms Ellis’ consecutive absences were identified as a result of a review undertaken by the CEO’s office after Council resolved at its meeting on 27 September to express that it is losing confidence in her due to a lack of attendance.
“Council resolved that Ms Ellis must improve her attendance or reconsider her position as a Councillor,” Mr Diehm said.
“While Ms Ellis had submitted a leave application for the period covering the April Council Meeting, it was not in accordance with the City’s guidelines which requires advance notice and therefore this application for leave was not considered by Council.
“Unfortunately, the Local Government Act does not provide me with any discretion to consider this or any other personal reasons for her continued absence and I am obligated by law to issue the notice of disqualification.”
Under the Local Government Act Ms Ellis is now required to provide the CEO with written advice within 14 days as to whether she believes that she is not disqualified and the reasons why.
Other options available to Ms Ellis include making an application to the State Administrative Tribunal for them to determine the matter.
The Notice of Disqualification is effective immediately and prevents Ms Ellis representing the Council or herself as a Councillor in any capacity unless she applies to the State Administrative Tribunal asking for a declaration that she is not disqualified.
Failure to comply with the notice may result in a penalty of $5,000 or imprisonment for one year.