Whittlesea council elects new mayor

Northern Star Weekly
5 November 2018
Laura Michell

Whittlesea mayor Lawrie Cox and deputy mayor Tom Joseph (supplied).

New Whittlesea mayor Lawrie Cox has warned his colleagues to show respect to other councillors and council staff, and to accept the decisions made by the majority of council.

Cr Cox was elected uncontested to the council’s top job last Thursday. It’s the second time he has led the council, having previously been president of the then Whittlesea Shire from 1982-83.

Cr Tom Joseph was named deputy mayor.

Councillors Ricky Kirkham, Norm Kelly and Alahna Desiato were absent. No apologies or requests for leave of absence were made on their behalf. Cr Mary Lalios was also absent. She has been on leave from the council since April and is currently on WorkCover.

Addressing his colleagues in his inaugural speech as mayor, Cr Cox said the council had experienced a change in policy direction in the past 12 months, but stressed the change did not make its decisions “bad” or “wrong”.

“The majority make the decisions and just because [some councillors] disagree does not make it wrong,” he said.

“Every councillor has a right to be heard, participate and be shown respect.”

Cr Cox also took the opportunity to praise the work of chief executive Simon Overland over the past year.

In September the council released a probity auditor’s report which said Cr Lalios made a complaint against Mr Overland, “asserting that she had been bullied by him”. The report dismissed the claim.

“It is often misunderstood that we can direct the staff. The practice by some who try to do so must stop,” Cr Cox said.

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