Vote defended

Councillor Dale Harriman has defended his decision to vote on the Moe railway revitalisation project governance review on Monday night.

Cr Harriman was afforded greater power than his colleagues in voting on whether to bring the matter out of the closed section of the meeting to be debated in full view of the public.

He was voted to chair the meeting while acting mayor Sharon Gibson was outside chambers, as she and Cr Peter Gibbons had declared an interest in the matter and left for the vote.

This appointment proved critical in the final decision, as the vote was split, three-all, leaving Cr Harriman, as chair, to cast the deciding vote in opposition to bringing the governance review into the open section of the meeting.

But some members of the community have since questioned why Cr Harriman voted at all.

Committee for Moe president Manny Gelagotis and Traralgon resident Anne Murphy, who a fortnight ago called for the matter to be debated publicly, queried why Cr Harriman remained in chambers to vote on Monday night, when for previous decisions relating to the Moe revitalisation project, he had declared an interest and did not vote.

“If he had a conflict last time, why doesn’t he now?” Ms Murphy said.

Cr Harriman told The Express his original interest did not apply to Monday night’s proceedings and such was his legal advice.

He said his “conflicting personal interest” applied to decisions on whether or not to approve and fund the Moe project itself and did not extend to the governance review matter.

“This issue relates to a review, rather than going ahead with, or funding the project. It relates to procedural matters,” Cr Harriman said.

“I had no reason to leave the room, so as a councillor, I’m required to stay in the room.”

Cr Harriman did not reveal the exact nature of his conflicting personal interest.