BENDIGO councillors have voted to refer Cr Elise Chapman to a Councillor Conduct Panel.
The decision was reached after a two-and-a-half hour discussion, which resulted in seven councillors voting to refer Cr Chapman to a conduct panel and two voting against it.
Once the Municipal Association of Victoria receives the referral, it will establish an independent panel to hear the complaints against Cr Chapman.
In a statement to the media, Mayor Peter Cox said all councillors except for Elise Chapman and Helen Leach had elected to refer Cr Chapman to a conduct panel.
"As a group, we believe the sending of such a Tweet on February 22 was abhorrent and inexcusable," the statement says.
"While some are saying this is an argument about free speech; it is not.
"Rather, this is about how we expect our councillors to behave when interacting with their constituents and this behaviour is not fitting of someone who has the privilege of representing the people of Greater Bendigo.
"Under the Local Government Act 1989 Councillors must follow a set of standards that reflect public expectations of their conduct and these standards are set out in the Greater Bendigo City Council’s Code of Conduct.
Importantly, these standards include:
Councillors will treat all people with courtesy and respect; recognising that there are legitimate opinions, race, culture, religion, language, gender and abilities.
Considerable effort has been made to try and resolve this matter internally. Today Councillors had an opportunity to meet and Cr Chapman was asked to address and expand on her apology published in today’s paper. The apology was not deemed appropriate.
As a group we will make no further comment. It will be the responsibility of the Panel to consider the matter and recommend what, if any, action should be taken.
To expedite the process, we have elected to act as a group as provided for by the Local Government Act and so we can get on with the normal business of Council.
EARLIER: THE Bendigo Advertiser believes councillors are about to meet to discuss whether or not to refer Cr Elise Chapman to a Councillor Conduct Panel.
Bendigo Mayor Peter Cox yesterday said Cr Elise Chapman had "come a long way" in acknowledging her actions were "not what they should have been".
He said he didn't want Cr Chapman referred to a Councillor Conduct Panel and would prefer the controversy surrounding a tweet she sent to be resolved within a week.
"There are certain things she's done that she's got to think about," he said.
"They weren't in the best interest of the council or the Bendigo community.
"Her statement indicates that's what she's thinking about.
"I would hope that things can be rectified."
However, while Cr Cox doesn't want Cr Chapman referred to a conduct panel, the Bendigo Advertiser believes other councillors do not share his view.
We will update you when we learn about the outcome of the meeting.