Calls for Councillor Kerry Brown to resign

Liberal, Labor and an Independent councillor have called on Ward 1 councillor Kerry Brown to resign in the wake of a NSW Ombudsman's report into SafeWork's asbestos investigation in the Blue Mountains.

Councillor Kerry Brown.

Councillor Kerry Brown.

Liberal Cr Daniel Myles led the charge at Tuesday night's council meeting.

"When Councillor Brown went on the Ray Hadley program in December 2017 and did not call for calm and due process on the allegations made, she gave credence to assertions that have since been shown to be unfounded," he said.

"She has learnt nothing from this sad process and her central role in it. She has shown and still shows a lack of leadership and should resign from this council."

Independent Cr Shae Foenander went further. "Cr Brown you should hang your head in shame ... you should say a big sorry to our community," she said.

"I think it's time you step aside and that you go. The damage that you have caused is irreversible."

Cr Brown said she would not be resigning and after four years was "inured to the attacks and slurs of other councillors but I am sickened by the disrespect they have shown to the workers, union and SafeWork staff whose perseverance has lifted this council from risk and non-compliance to safety".

"It was the United Services Union that went to SafeWork asking them to investigate Blue Mountains City Council and then later approached Ray Hadley to take up the issue providing him with a copy of their 166-point complaint to council about its asbestos management," she said.

Cr Brown defended her comments on the Ray Hadley program from 2017.

"At the request of unknown workers, I was interviewed on the Hadley program on the 10 November 2017 following two days of inaugural interviews with union official Steve Donnelly. I was interviewed again on the 13 December. Like Mr Donnelly I stressed the need to investigate the facts about council's asbestos management while also raising my concerns for worker safety and adequate reporting to councillors. I would do the same again," she said.

But Labor Cr Romola Hollywood said it was "time for some people here to stop twisting the facts to suit your own ends, to stop twisting the findings of the Ombudsman report to cover your own back, to stop playing games with our community and our council, and for some councillors to stop seconding motions of councillors who don't even have credibility in their party".

"It's time for the person of this assault to consider their position and resign."

In March, Cr Brown failed to gain council preselection for the Greens for the 2021 local government elections.

While not referring to political figures by name, Mayor Mark Greenhill said "those involved should consider their code of conduct and consider resigning."

Cr Brown told the meeting: "I seem to have read a different report from everyone else.

"It was the workers and the union that went to management and called SafeWork in."

She said the council didn't have an asbestos management plan at the time, and that it was important to recognise council's organisational failures.

Council CEO Rosemary Dillon has previously stated: "Council has acknowledged since early 2018 that there had been failures in asbestos management practices and the organisation has been diligent in addressing these matters, and continues to strengthen and improve its asbestos management."

Greens Cr Brent Hoare said the Ombudsman's report "raises serious concerns about how a supposedly independent regular can be manipulated for political ends" and called for an Upper House inquiry.

The Ombudsman's report found SafeWork issued six asbestos notices to the council in 2017 and 2018 that were either unlawful or unreasonable. Ombudsman Michael Barnes recommended SafeWork apologise to the council and pay compensation.

SafeWork has said it is reviewing the Ombudsman's report's recommendations.

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