Rockingham Mayor criticised for ‘dressing down’ councillor over broadband speeds

Trish Mullan and Dianne Parks.
Rockingham Mayor criticised for ‘dressing down’ councillor over broadband speeds
Trish Mullan and Dianne Parks.

TWO ratepayers claim that Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels abused his power and authority by “dressing down” Councillor Matt Whitfield during the September 27 council meeting.

At the meeting, councillors opposed Cr Whitfield’s request to write letters supporting Baldivis residents in their push for access to extra internet ports.

Cr Sammels told Cr Whitfield there were some on the council who felt intimidated by what he did on social media.

Trish Mullan and Dianne Parks said they attended the meeting due to an unrelated matter about crime and policing in Waikiki.

“I was totally disgusted at his treatment and comments to Matt,” Mrs Mullan said.

“He publicly humiliated a councillor; I felt it was out of order.

“It was horrible to watch. You could see the embarrassment on Matt’s face.”

MORE: Councillor shouted down in push for better internet speed

Mrs Mullan said Cr Whitfield was advocating for ratepayers.

“If the councillors feel like Matt is intimidating them on social media, it is because he is showing them up by doing his job,” she said.

Mrs Mullan said she left the meeting with a different view of council.

“I personally feel council are not transparent,” she said. “I feel they do not want to hear residents’ concerns or input,” she said.

“It states on the City of Rockingham’s website the role of the mayor and its councillors is to represent the residents of the City of Rockingham and their concerns and that is exactly what Cr Whitfield was doing.”

MORE: Brand MHR weighs in on NBN access

She said she would attend the next meeting in the hope that there would be an apology to Councillor Whitfield and the members of the public present at the meeting.

Cr Sammels said “I absolutely refute any suggestion that I abused my power or authority in any way during the debate”.

“I received several emails relating to last Tuesday’s meeting and I have replied in detail to the questions and concerns that were raised,” he said. “It would obviously not be appropriate for the City to release details of what is essentially private correspondence.”

Cr Sammels said the treatment reflected councillors’ enthusiasm for Rockingham and its ratepayers.

“All councillors take their roles and responsibilities very seriously and are passionate about their constituents and their City as a whole,” he said. “Very occasionally, this passion spills over into some quite robust and heated debate, and this was indeed the case at last week’s meeting.”

FROM THE WEB

Emma Broughton – If this is an attempt at a smear campaign against Matt it’s a massive fail! Bad luck to the stuffy old councillors. Matt listens to his community and works hard towards solving real issues. It’s why he has so much support…he actually does his job.

Rebecca Gordon – Cr Matt Whitfield is an asset to the Rockingham council. He is actually getting stuff done, is present in our community and is a fantastic representative for the people. If he ran for Mayor he’d have my vote 100 per cent.

Jamie Mcnee – Maybe Cr Whitfield would have been better pushing for the letter to cover all of Rockingham and not just his ward.

Peter R Hall – Coucillors? I thought they were elected to represent the electorate? They should try talking and listening! Well done Matt.

Joel O’Brien – Feeling intimidated on social media? The answer really is as simple as turning your computer off.

Jason Moyle – If local governments don’t listen to their electorate what hope do we have of the state or federal government’s listening to the people.

Lealan McLennan – Just goes to show how much the current council is out of touch with whats needed or what people want.

Cohn Jurtis – Councillor Matt is amazing for Baldivis. I don’t always agree with him but at least he listens. He uses social media as he should in a modern world as a resource to connect with rate payers. He understand our concerns and fights for us.