After 14 years in local government – five as mayor, eight as deputy and one as councillor – former Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor and current councillor Bob Kirk thought he had seen it all.
That was until the mayoral vote went in his former deputy Peter Walker’s favour five-to-four, which has left Cr Kirk perplexed by the actions of the five councillors who decided to vote against him.
“It’s change for the sake of change,” Cr Kirk said.
“By any rationale it was surprising. I keep failing to find any reason, and I don’t think anybody out there has been able to find a reason as to why any change was necessary.
“I don’t deserve an answer, I think the community deserves an answer. That’s my point.”
Cr Kirk believes the councillors have an obligation to the community to publicly explain their decision.
“I know a lot of people who thought that their vote was a vote for mayor and they were obviously endorsing that but we know that it’s not,” he said.
“The councillors have made their decision and choice for their reasons, and those reasons people deserve to know.”
One of the central issues raised over Cr Kirk’s time as mayor was the deterioration of the relationship with the operators of Wakefield Park and Cr Kirk finds that reasoning puzzling.
“It is an issue and it’s one of any number of issues that council has to deal with. It wasn’t something that should make or break the position of the mayor in my view,” said Cr Kirk.
“Our discussion on the status of the Wakefield Park position, like a whole range of other matters that were mentioned on the night, are routine matters where the mayor is only one person at the end of the day who only has one vote.
“There was never anyone on council that wanted to see anything adversely happen to Wakefield Park, they just had to make a decision in the best interests of the community,” he said.
Cr Kirk also raised the impact of party politics in local government and, while not explicitly stating it, it seems he believes it influenced his demise as mayor.
“There is no necessity for party politics in local government,” he said.
“If they’re there to give priority to party policies or party preferences or party anything, then they’re in the wrong job because we’re all on the same team on a council.”
While he is still finding it difficult to stomach his loss, Cr Kirk says he has had “enough sour grapes” and it’s now time to move forward.
“The decision has been made, I’m still a councillor. Certainly, I’m aggrieved but I think it’s an insult to the community but as much to me as anyone else, and while I have that view, I have 4000 that voted for me and I have an obligation to fulfil their expectations,” he said.
“I’m still a councillor and I’ll be the best councillor in the house.”
New Mayor Peter Walker held no concerns regarding his ability to work alongside Cr Kirk, but did admit he was growing tired of the discussion.
“Of course, we can move forward. I expect them to move forward, it’s fine,” he said.
“Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. I stood for the position on the format and platform that I put forward and we’re just moving forward.”