By KIERAN FINNANE
Mayor Damien Ryan (left), a candidate in the forthcoming NT election, shows no sign of stepping away from his council role until the last minute: that’s August 6.
Who will step into his shoes?
In a report to council, CEO Robert Jennings (pictured on the Zoom screen above) last night proposed that an Elected Member then be appointed to the role. In the case of Mr Ryan’s electoral success or, if unsuccessful, he decides not to apply to return to his position, that Elected Member would remain in the role until the local government elections next year.
Two councillors demurred. Their objection was not to the interim step but to it remaining in place for the duration.
Cr Eli Melky (left) said he would be more in favour of a by-election if the Mayor did not return to his role.
Cr Jimmy Cocking proposed a “two stage process”, with a special general meeting to determine who would become the principal member for the remaining term once the post-election situation becomes clear.
A critical factor in the two-stage process would be that the majority vote could change.
At present, with the resignations of Crs Marli Banks and Catherine Satour, both contesting the election, council is reduced to seven members. With Mayor Ryan and DM Paterson out of the picture from August 6, it will go down to five and will take only three to make a majority.
Given the political complexion of council – with CLP–aligned and socially conservative members generally voting together – the outcome is predictable. It was reflected last night in the solid backing of Cr Jamie de Brenni for LGANT office-bearer positions (he is now council’s nomination for both President and Vice-President, with Cr Cocking not winning support for Vice).
But let’s say the scenario after the election sees Ms Banks and Ms Satour returning to council and Mr Ryan and Mr Paterson out, the result becomes less predictable, with the record showing that that Crs Melky and Cocking (left) have often voted with the former Crs Banks and Satour.
In last night’s debate Mayor Ryan and Deputy Mayor Paterson were unmoved by an early challenge from Cr Melky to them remaining “in the room “(the Zoom meeting).
Cr Jacinta Price’s sole contribution was to call for the matter to be put to a vote.
When Cr Cocking expressed his concern that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were “still at the table and possibly voting”, DM Paterson (below left), somewhat uncharacteristically, spat the dummy and left the meeting, followed by Mayor Ryan.
As they were leaving, both said that they found “insulting” Cr Cocking’s suggestion (implying a conflict of interest).
As predictable, the CEO’s proposal for the single step process was then carried, by Crs de Brenni, Price and Glen Auricht.
A fair wager will be that this process will see Cr de Brenni appointed as acting principal for the remainder of the term, no doubt helpful in paving the way for his mayoral tilt next year.
Cr Melky gave notice that he will bring a motion to rescind that resolution “at the earliest opportunity”. Cr Cocking said he’d second it.