Ex-Mayor of Hurstville exits with his tail between his legs

The former Hurstville Council had a very chequered history in its final years.  Riddled with allegations about inappropriate behaviour by councillors, Pizza Man GM Victor Lampe suspended until OLG intervened to secure his return to work (where he very quickly pulled the pin), and a flurry of allegations against the conduct of Mayor Con Hindi about his behaviour, personal developments and potential conflicts of interest.

The usual standard stuff really, and not really a surprise to those of us who have low expectations about the standard of people elected into local government office, but the significant concern in the list of unacceptable behaviour by ex-Councillor Hindi was launching defamation action against the Director of Planning and Development at the Council Michael Watt, over the content of a report dealing with unauthorised work at Hindi’s property.

This was unprecedented.  A report prepared by professionals, submitted by the Director of Planning and Development, a well-respected and highly-regarded planner, factually reporting on things that had been done on the property and making recommendations about remedy.  Despite the hundreds of crazy people, glory-seekers, rent-seekers, self-seekers, one-issue-zealots and general boofheads who have been elected to local councils over the decades trying any number of things to encourage, cajole or intimidate staff, this was quite a novelty.

And a novelty intended to prejudice the reporting by professionals about compliance with planning instruments and legislative controls.  It was an attempt at bullying of the very worst kind.

But, while being a blowhard might do it in the cut and thrust of boofhead councillors fighting with each other, when it comes down to pursuing vexatious defamation action that was unsustainable, Hindi came a cropper - to the extent that Hindi agreed to discontinue the claim, agreed not to commence any action arising out of the publication at all, provided a letter to Mr Watt confirming the withdrawal of all the allegations made against him and, tail firmly between his legs, concluded the letter with “I unreservedly withdraw any allegation that by publishing the report you defamed me or otherwise damaged my reputation.”

And, Hindi paid the costs. “HA HA!”.

Thanks Michael, a victory for all professional staff getting about their work.

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