Online tensions boil over

Meeting. The conduct of Circular Head Councillor Rod Hardy has been disputed by a local man during public question time at Thursday night’s monthly council meeting.

Around 15 minutes into the meeting, Forest resident Crighton Horton stood to address councillors, pointing to the council’s Code of Conduct and stating that it is “all about leadership”.

“You have a councillor here – Cr Rod Hardy – who has vilified businesses in town, particularly in Stanley,” Mr Horton said, also referring to alleged racial slurs made by Cr Hardy and use of social media to put down other councillors “not so long ago”.

“If I did that in my work, I’d be sacked,” Mr Horton continued, asking how Cr Hardy had remained in his position for so long.

In response, Mayor Daryl Quilliam said “Cr Hardy was elected by this community”, describing the particular legislation as a bit of a “toothless tiger” which was “trying to be rectified by local government”.

Mr Horton then responded by asking if the Code of Conduct was “basically irrelevant”.

“I believe councillors are here to represent the community. It’s made a joke of your council and the district,” Mr Horton said.

Cr Quilliam said he would take the concerns on board, though added he believed the council was “powerless to do much” in the situation.

General manager Tony Smart stated that because councillors were elected by the community, the council does not have the power to dismiss representatives from the council; only a relevant state government minister would have such authority.

Cr Hardy was not asked to respond on the night, but when questioned by the Chronicle afterwards, he said the alleged abuse online was being made “both ways”.

Though admitting he received “a shock” when he heard Mr Horton stand to speak at the meeting, Cr Hardy believes tensions stemmed from a post he made on Facebook late last year trying to gain support for new toilet facilities in Stanley.

“He took it on board to have a shot [at me] then,” Cr Hardy said. “It just got to the stage about him nitpicking every little thing [I posted].”

Cr Hardy pointed to a right to free speech, saying the content in posts that he makes or shares on social media platforms were to be taken light-heartedly.

“It comes down to political correctness – they (posts) are jokes,” he said. “They’re mainly yarns . . . a good laughable yarn. I’m being quite honest with everyone.”

“I believe councillors are here to represent the community. It’s made a joke of your council and the district.”

– Crighton Horton.

“It comes down to political correctness – they (posts) are jokes.”

– Cr Rod Hardy.

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