Residents of the Ararat community are furious over Mayor Glenda McLean’s position on council after she went walkabout, starting a full-time job interstate. A motion of no confidence towards Mayor Glenda McLean was carried at Tuesday’s meeting along with a majority vote for her to resign. McLean has been making headlines throughout the last week after she mysteriously vanished from the Ararat area. She was later confirmed to be working in Mount Isa as a senior consultant for North West Health.
Cr Glenda McLean’s ridiculous story – which sounds like a Hollywood movie – began when she addressed the public gallery in an abusive way during a council meeting in May last year when she said, “suck it up, princesses.” She was named in the Commission of Inquiry Into Ararat Rural City Council’s final report for making that remark but was still elected mayor on the 31st October later in the year. Things started to move on but the council was still not working together at the conclusion of 2017. When I spoke with Cr Peter Beales in December for Youth Journalism International, he shared the stress he felt during one of the most difficult years of his life, “We’re not working together because we don’t trust each other,” Cr Beales said.
Fast forward a few months and the people of Ararat hear that the Mayor’s location is unknown, Cr McLean seems to make her way back into the headlines once again. The search was on… Mount Isa was soon confirmed to be not only her location but also where she had begun to work full-time. Facebook user Violet Grace summed up my reaction perfectly, ” Just when you think you have heard it all from the circus.”
With Cr McLean’s location confirmed by Queensland’s North West Hospital and Health Service, media organisations tried to obtain a comment from the mayor herself. She wasn’t very keen to answer anyone’s phone calls until the ABC finally managed to get hold of her. The mayors plan to continue working interstate on a ‘fly in, fly out’ basis became known to the public but it wasn’t greeted with an overwhelming satisfaction.
The mayor finally re-surfaced at The Shire Hall in Ararat around 5pm yesterday where she was greeted by an unusual number of journalists. Mayor McLean had called all councillors to a briefing before the planned 6pm council meeting to discuss her sudden move north. She couldn’t talk to the media on arrival so questions were left unanswered until the scheduled meeting began. Local residents stood watching on in the chamber while others watched via live stream on the council’s Facebook page. Just over an hour into the meeting, the much-anticipated discussion began.
The conclusion was not what a lot of locals were expecting from the meeting. The vote of no confidence in Cr McLean fell 5-2, the only ones voting against it were Cr Darren Ford and Cr Glenda McLean herself. The results did not mean Cr McLean had to resign and she resumed her position as chair at the conclusion of the discussion. The mayor later told Fairfax Media she “would have to think about” her response to the motions.
This afternoon Cr Glenda McLean offered to resign as mayor but not as a councillor according to The Ararat Advertiser, however, there was one condition. The mayor will not step down from her leadership role until she has met with Victoria’s Local Government Minister.
I spoke with some of my fellow students at Ararat College who have been following the unique situation. Year 9 student Emily Lewis said, “I don’t like the fact of Glenda being mayor. She is unreliable and it’s pretty obvious she doesn’t care.” Another student who wished to remain anonymous shared, “I think that Glenda is a kind-hearted person who wants the best for the community but has gone about things the wrong way by leaving the municipality.”
Will the Minister meet with mayor Glenda McLean? That is something that will have to be answered in the coming days. Hopefully, somewhere on the horizon our council will be focused on its local community and not its own members.