Chains rattle former councillor

A former Colac Otway mayor has challenged new mayor Joe McCracken, pictured from a post on his Facebook page, over his personal decision to start wearing the former City of Colac mayoral chains.

A former Colac Otway Shire mayor has challenged the current shire mayor’s move to overturn a decision of the council and bring back the mayoral chains without a council vote.

Helen Paatsch, who served as a councillor with the City of Colac and then with the Colac Otway Shire Council from 1992 until 2004, raised her concerns at the last council meeting about current mayor Joe McCracken’s plans to start wearing the gold chains.

Mrs Paatsch, who served as Colac Otway mayor between 1999 and 2000, used question time to ask councillors if they realised “that the first council of the Colac Otway Shire voted in 1994 to do away with such trappings of office”?

Mayor Cr Joe McCracken used his Facebook page last month to announce he intended to start wearing the City of Colac mayoral chains to council meetings.

But after the Herald questioned his social media announcement, Cr McCracken issued a press release stating “I certainly don’t intend to wear the mayoral chains at council meetings”.

“But if it’s appropriate, I’d like to pay tribute to our predecessors by wearing the mayoral chains at civic events,” he said on the release.

But Cr McCracken failed to respond to whether the issue was discussed with councillors and therefore a decision of the council.

Mrs Paatsch said the City of Colac mayoral chains “were in use for only 34 years, from 1960 until 1994, and by only one of the three municipalities that merged to form the Colac Otway Shire”.

“Mr Mayor, in paying tribute to councillors whose names are recorded on the City of Colac mayoral chains, how to you plan to pay tribute to trailblazers such as the late councillor shire president Betty Arundell, and to the many presidents of the shires of Colac and Otway in over a century of local government leadership?” she asked Cr McCracken at his first council meeting as mayor.

“And indeed Mr Mayor to those councillors who sit at this table with you today, and have held the office of mayor but whose office is not recorded on the mayoral chains of the former City of Colac.

“How do you square that with councillors Potter, Hart and Smith?” Mrs Paatsch said, referencing the three current councillors who have served as mayor.

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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