Machine gun jest triggers a review

Independent Russ Dickens (left) has stuck up for Blacktown mayor Len Robinson (right), saying that the mayor's recent comments about installing a machine gun to stop Labor councillors from interjecting during council meetings were made in the heat of the moment.

Independent Russ Dickens (left) has stuck up for Blacktown mayor Len Robinson (right), saying that the mayor's recent comments about installing a machine gun to stop Labor councillors from interjecting during council meetings were made in the heat of the moment.

COMMENTS made in jest in the Blacktown Council chamber were no laughing matter for Russ Dickens.

The independent was fired up over the Labor councillors' reaction to mayor Len Robinson, who said on June 25 that he would install a machine gun for the next mayor to stop interjections in meetings.

Labor councillors found the remark offensive and asked the general manager to seek advice.

An independent conduct reviewer has since ruled the mayor's comments were not in breach of the council's code of conduct.

"While the mayor's comments could perhaps not be described as a respectful way to interact with others, any reasonable interpretation of his words was that they were said in jest," reviewer Kathy Thane wrote.

"Further, the model code of conduct is intended to deal with matters of a more serious nature and it is considered that it should not be used to deal with trivial issues such as this."

Labor councillors fear the ruling could set a precedent for councillors to be allowed to threaten others but then say it was a joke.

"You hold the highest office in this chamber so whatever you say has to be taken seriously," Councillor Edmond Atalla said.

"Had you apologised for the wording on this matter, it may have been resolved.

"Where has the respect and dignity gone in this chamber?"

But Cr Dickens had had enough.

"Are you blokes for real?" he asked Labor councillors.

"I've never heard such ridiculous garbage.

"It's not funny to me what you've done to Blacktown City by making a big thing beyond what it was.

"This matter should be put to rest and not take up any more of the council's time.

"We've become the laughing stock of councils everywhere."

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