A report has been lodged with the Office of Local Government over the termination of Wingecarribee Shire Council general manager Ann Prendergast's contract.
Ann Prendergast's contract was terminated in closed council at the Extraordinary Meeting of Wingecarribee Shire Council on July 29.
In his mayoral column to the Southern Highland News, mayor Duncan Gair defended Ms Prendergast's performance and took aim at councillors who supported her removal.
"In my opinion Ann was placed under immense and continual strain, intimidation and harassment from certain councillors, whose sole agenda was to remove her from the position of general manager," he wrote.
"It is without doubt some of the worst behaviour I have ever witnessed in my time in local government and sadly overshadows the many accomplishments and reforms she championed during her six-year tenure.
"This matter has been reported to the Office of Local Government."
Southern Highland News asked Cr Gair to further clarify his comments.
"There is an underlying issue in council and I'm not prepared to speak to it until further advice from the Office of Local Government," he said.
An Office of Local Government spokesperson confirmed they had received a complaint and that it was under investigation.
The Southern Highland News spoke to several councillors, who appeared split in their view that intimidation or bullying had occurred in the lead-up to the termination of Ms Prendergast's contract.
Councillor Peter Nelson said that in his opinion bullying had occurred.
"You just have to watch the council meetings to see the bullying that happens," he said.
"In the heat of the battle, councillor to councillor, whatever happens, I'm happy to let it rest at the council meeting.
"But I do take exception when councillors attack the staff because they can't respond."
Councillor Graham McLaughlin said that bullying shouldn't be tolerated.
"It's something I don't support," he said. "You should deal with people as people and not go to the extents to bully people."
Councillor Ken Halstead said he hadn't witnessed any bullying.
"I take great exception to the mayor's comment, used under a mayoral licence, to malign certain councillors," he said.
"The only questioning of the former general manager that I've done is in relation to the late submission to the Royal Commission on National Natural Disasters and the NSW Commission into bushfires."
Councillor Grahame Andrews said that he felt that there was bullying in the council chambers.
"There has most definitely been a significant element of bullying," he said. "It was almost always directed towards former general manager Ann Prendergast and other council staff.
"It happened on many occasions, some was indirect on social media and some was quite direct during council meetings."
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Councillor Larry Whipper said he wouldn't use the word 'bullying'.
"I think there certainly has been some intimidation from certain people that may have put undue stress on the former general manager.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it was bullying but certainly there has been what I believe is intimidation."
Councillor Ian Scandrett also believed that there was bullying in council.
"It needs to be dealt with to make the council truly representative and independent," he said. "I have had personal and repeated experience of this."
Councillor Garry Turland said he didn't believe there was any bullying in council.
"The issue was the late submission into the bushfire royal commission," he said.
"We had every right to question the lack of submission."
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