WARRNAMBOOL City chief executive Bruce Anson’s office has denied claims that he fobbed off council election candidate Brian Kelson.
Nanjing Night Net

The Liebig Street businessman, who has twice questioned the council at open meetings in the past month about how much a tribunal case against Cr Peter Hulin may cost, accused Mr Anson last week of avoiding the answer and giving a political response.

“Mr Anson has not ‘fobbed off’ Mr Kelson despite what Mr Kelson says,” council communications manager Kim Sweetnam told The Standard.

“He has not provided Mr Kelson with the response that he wants because it is unclear at this stage what the costs will be,” she said.

“Providing a guesstimate to the public as requested by Mr Kelson would be irresponsible.”

Ms Sweetnam said a written response sent to Mr Kelson soon after his first question to the February 13 meeting indicated that costs were a matter for the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal which would make the determination.

“The letter stated that a decision on costs would be made within three months of the hearing,” she said.

“This was reinforced at Monday’s meeting. “So, in fact, Mr Kelson has twice been given a response to his question, once in writing and once verbally.”

Mr Kelson has told The Standard that ratepayers deserved a clearer answer on how much the council expected the case against Cr Hulin may cost.

Cr Hulin is being taken to VCAT for a ruling on whether his actions in taping and divulging details of a closed council meeting constitute serious misconduct.

The Standard last week said his legal costs would be paid for by the Municipal Association of Victoria.

However, the association and Mr Anson’s office have said this was incorrect.

“It is not an MAV insurance policy that will be covering Cr Hulin’s legal costs,” the association’s senior communications adviser Debbie Smith said.

“There are other insurance policies that offer councillors and officers coverage.”

Mr Anson’s office said depending on VCAT’s determination Cr Hulin’s costs may be covered by insurance, and if so, it would be the council’s insurer which would cover them.

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