Statement - HCC v Cr T Dance
Published on 31 August 2023
Hume City Council made the decision to withdraw its application in the hearing of Hume City Council v Cr. Trevor Dance at the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria on Thursday 24 August, 2023.
This decision was made once it became apparent that based on the Supreme Court Justices’ interpretation of the relevant legislation, the matter should never have reached a Councillor Conduct Panel in the first place.
This was a new interpretation, raised by the Court for the first time during the hearing, and Council withdrew the application at the first opportunity.
Quotes attributable to Hume City Council CEO, Sheena Frost:
“At every stage of this process there has been a different interpretation of what constitutes serious misconduct. This reflects the fact that the legal framework is flawed, and requires review. Had this interpretation been put forward earlier in the process – at the Councillor Conduct Panel or at VCAT, or in the written submissions in the Appeal – the parties would have been saved a lot of time and money. It is really disappointing.
“No one wins today, as reflected in the cost order awarded by the Supreme Court in acknowledgement of the legal interpretation no one has come up with until today. Council has been ordered to cover only fifty per cent of the legal costs as assessed on a standard basis.
“Local government needs a robust framework for dealing with councillor conduct issues. The current framework and recourse are disproportionately complex and expensive for what it is and needs fixing, as well as being inadequate to address inappropriate conduct. We will refer this experience to Local Government Victoria to input into the review of the Councillor Conduct Framework that is currently taking place.
"Council will provide an update of associated legal costs as part of its next quarterly report on costs, due in October this year."