COUNCILLOR Elise Chapman has refused to apologise for sending a graphic tweet at the start of the year, despite a determination from an independent councillor conduct panel that she do so.
The panel returned a finding of misconduct against Cr Chapman for tweeting an image of children with mutilated genitals to a supporter of Bendigo’s proposed mosque in February.
The tweet was accompanied by the words, “Oh we could have this here too? Would you like your fanny sliced off?”
The councillor conduct panel determined Cr Chapman had breached several clauses of the Councillor Code of Conduct. It found Cr Chapman should be reprimanded, make an “unreserved apology to the council and the Bendigo community” and that the council should review its code of conduct.
When offered an opportunity by Mayor Peter Cox to apologise, Cr Chapman refused.
She said she had lodged a request for the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the panel’s decision.
Council will not make the full report into Cr Chapman’s conduct public.
Instead, a motion to release only its determinations was passed. There was no debate around the motion at the meeting.
The clauses found to be breached by Cr Chapman include the stipulation that councillors must “treat all people with courtesy and respect; recognising that there are legitimate opinions, race, culture, religion, language, gender and abilities”, and must treat “all members of the community with dignity and ensuring neither offence nor embarrassment are caused”.
The panel also found Cr Chapman breached the clause that councillors must “act with integrity and honesty”, “exercising reasonable care and diligence in performing their functions as councillors”.
Cr Chapman was also found not to have respected “the council’s policy in relation to public comments and communications with the media”.
She has not signed the council code of conduct, saying she does not agree with its contents.
The panel also determined that Cr Chapman be “reprimanded”. No details were released as to the manner in which she should be reprimanded.
A determination that council review its councillor code of conduct was also made by the panel.