Why I wouldn't be party to Petty politics

By Shannon Tonkin
Updated November 5 2012 - 3:35pm, first published September 15 2011 - 1:02am
Why I wouldn't be party to Petty politics

Wollongong independent councillor Greg Petty has stood by his decision to abstain from the deputy mayoral vote at Tuesday's council meeting despite a wave of public criticism.Cr Petty's (pictured) decision not to vote in the final ballot left the council evenly split between Labor's David Brown and Liberal councillor John Dorahy, resulting in a draw from a hat to determine the outcome.Cr Brown won the ballot, but his appointment has been overshadowed by fierce debate surrounding Cr Petty's refusal to record a vote.The vote for deputy mayor is carried out annually.Cr Petty's fellow councillors who spoke with the Mercury yesterday expressed mixed views on the subject, while the Mercury website was inundated with the views of supporters and detractors."I think it's very disappointing," Liberal councillor Michelle Blicavs said."I don't think people of the Wollongong electorate want us to abstain from voting without a just cause."To choose someone for deputy mayor is an honour and a privilege of being a councillor."But Cr Petty was steadfast in his decision yesterday, saying he made up his mind based on his observations of councillors and their interactions during the three-day councillor training session earlier this week."No-one knows what's gone on in the last three days of [our] training," he said."I had three days to make an assessment and I have remained independent." Cr Petty refused to say what incidents or observations prompted his decision not to support either candidate."I'm not prepared to disclose what has gone on behind closed doors," he said.Cr Petty also refused to explain what he hoped to achieve by abstaining from the vote and whether he supported Cr Brown's appointment, only saying he supported the "democratic process" of the vote.But Cr Petty's stance has caused a stir within the community, with many venting their frustrations on the Mercury's website yesterday.Unbelievable posted: "Cr Petty - your first opportunity to make a stand and make a difference and you act Petty and sit on your hands. Time to start acting like a representative of the people who elected you."Drew Smiles said: "I don't support Labor or Liberal but find it cowardly that Petty (who I regrettably voted for) abstained. I always understood "independent" to mean "independent of a political party" not "independent of an opinion".But others supported Cr Petty's move."Finally we have someone showing some integrity and having the guts to do so in public."Wish we had seen more of it on council a few years ago," Helen posted.Labor councillor Janice Kershaw said the situation was one of the "weirdest" she had seen while on council."It was certainly not the preferred outcome," she said of the lucky dip-style final draw, but acknowledged it was Cr Petty's right to decide not to cast a vote.

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