Wheeler, Ross record perfect attendance at council meetings

If a report card on councillor attendance at Hawkesbury City Council meetings was compiled, Councillors Danielle Wheeler and John Ross would get an A-plus.

In the 38 council meetings held throughout 2018 and up to August 27 of this year, Crs Wheeler and Ross were the only two to record a perfect attendance, closely followed by Mayor Barry Calvert, Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett, and Crs Emma-Jane Garrow, Nathan Zamprogno and Sarah Richards, who all notched up just one absence.

But at the other end of the scale, Cr Tiffany Tree recorded a total of 16 meeting absences - the highest number in the past two years. Of the 15 council meetings held this year, Cr Tree has missed 10.

The Gazette sought comment from Cr Tree on the issue, however did not receive a response.

Report card: Councillors Danielle Wheeler and John Ross have recorded 100 per cent attendance at council meetings since the beginning of 2018. Picture: Archive.

Report card: Councillors Danielle Wheeler and John Ross have recorded 100 per cent attendance at council meetings since the beginning of 2018. Picture: Archive.

Cr Wheeler has attended every meeting since being elected in 2016, and in that time has only missed two councillor briefings - both times due to representing council as a voting delegate at the Local Government General Assembly in Canberra.

"I think its quite reasonable for councillors to take leave occasionally, just like anyone can in any other job," she said.

"Illness, caring for children or sick family members, bereavement, unavoidable other work commitments ... even leave to take a holiday, these are all acceptable reasons to take leave.

"That said, I think rate payers expect me to turn up, be well prepared and do my job, and they are right to expect that. That means meetings, briefings and committees, as well as community events.

"We knew what we were signing up for when we put our hands up for council. I'm hoping to keep up my perfect record over the next 12 months."

When asked for comment Cr Ross referred the matter to the mayor, who said it was important to support councillors who were going through difficult times and could not attend meetings or other engagements.

"I am sure that all our councillors would like to be able to attend all of the meetings but we are not all fortunate enough to have perfect health or a trouble free family life," Cr Calvert said.

"If some councillors are unable to attend it is important that the rest of us support them during their difficult times.

"Also, a councillor's duties extend way beyond merely attending meetings and one cannot measure a councillor's contribution by simply calculating their attendance."

Hawkesbury City Council's Code of Meeting Practice sets out the attendance requirements for councillors at meetings, and if a councillor is absent from three consecutive meetings without having a leave of absence granted by the council, their civic office becomes vacant.

"Under Section 234 of the Local Government Act the vacancy in civic office is instantaneous as soon as the councillor has been absent from three meetings without a leave of absence being granted by council resolution," Corporate Services and Governance Acting Manager, Linda Hewitt, stated.