Minister demands report into Cr Peter Cox committee sacking

EDITORIAL: Cr Peter Cox deserves much better

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UPDATE 7.55PM TUESDAY: Bendigo councillors will decide if Councillor Peter Cox continues to sit on the Kangaroo Flat Mine Environmental Review Committee.

Cr Cox was dismissed as chair of the committee on Tuesday but will leave council to decide if he should remain involved.

Councillors elect the city's representative on the environmental review committee.

"I will put the facts to them and leave it to the councillors," Cr Cox said.

"In no way does this change my role (as councillor). I am elected by the people to represent them on issues like this."

The next City of Greater Bendigo council meeting is February 12.

UPDATE 7.15PM: Victorian Minister for Energy Resources Nick Kotsiras has demanded a full report into the sacking of Bendigo councillor Peter Cox as chair of the Kangaroo Flat Mine Environmental Review Committee.

Mr Kotsiras called the Bendigo Advertiser to say he had demanded a report into the sacking be 'on my desk in the morning'.

"To say I'm annoyed is an understatement," he said.

"My office was advised of the issues last year and it was my belief they were working through those issues."

Mr Kotsiras said he would speak with Cr Cox and Unity Mining later this week.

"I wasn't advised that he was sacked. My office was of the opinion the (matter) had been resolved,'' he said.

"I'm very annoyed with my department."

EARLIER

CITY of Greater Bendigo councillor Peter Cox has been axed as chairman of the Kangaroo Flat Mine Environmental Review Committee.

Cr Cox said the state's Department of Business, Development and Innovation terminated him because of comments he made at a November council meeting in relation to the planning application for the Augusta mine at Costerfield.

"The department has removed me as chair for that committee because the CEO of Unity Mining didn't like comments I made in relation to that planning application," Cr Cox said.

"Because I spoke out (about Costerfield) at council, they are inferring that I am speaking out against all mining projects."

Cr Cox said he met with Unity Mining and the Department of Business, Development and Innovation before Christmas to reach a resolution but one could not be agreed upon.

"I put my point of view about planning at a public council as part of a democratic process to justify my supporting or voting on particular motion. Apparently that was not acceptable to Unity," he said.

"The department said all parties must be happy with chair of environmental review committee and as Unity are not happy with my position, I have been told I have to vacate."

Cr Cox said he was appalled at the process of his removal.

He said he was listed as chairman on an agenda for a meeting on Tuesday but was told 20 minutes prior to the start of the meeting he wouldn't be chairing it.

"They said there was a letter sent out that I have never received," he said.

"I feel let down. It's a volunteer position and I feel I have served the committee well over a period of two years.

"I run meetings fairly, give everyone an opportunity to speak and until now I have made no public comments as chair.

"It is disappointing that the hard work will not be recognised."

Comment is still being sought from the Department of Business, Development and Innovation.

Unity Mining was unavailable for comment.

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