Julie Hoskin

Differences between City of Greater Bendigo councillors have caused Whipstick ward’s Julie Hoskin to miss three consecutive meeting citing extreme pressure.

Cr Hoskin was one of only two councillors to recently vote against the compulsory acquisition of the Carter family’s Marong farmland.

Amid a packed public gallery protesting against the move, six other councillors voted to proceed with forcible acquisition.

The council decision was taken at the April meeting, which was the last Cr Hoskin attended.

Compulsory acquisition of the Marong farmland was contingent on planning minister Richard Wynne’s approval, which he failed to give last month.

Cr Hoskin has since apologised to the Carter family, and this week she told the Bendigo Weekly she had stopped attending public meetings and council briefings “due to extreme pressure put on me in the council…for standing up against matters that were in the public interest”.

Cr Hoskin has supplied a medical certificate when she notified the council of her absence.

She has also started to return to meetings and is expected to attend an ordinary meeting to be held next Wednesday.

The Marong compulsory acquisition vote has been described by mayor Margaret O’Rourke as the hardest decision councillors have had to make so far in their four-year term.

“Being in public office can place pressure on councillors, particularly when they are tasked with making difficult decisionson behalf of the community,” Cr O’Rourke said in response to questions about Cr Hoskin’s absence.

“This pressure is felt differently be each individual councillor.”

Cr O’Rourke said Cr Hoskin had been treated the same as all other councillors and in line with the councillor code of conduct.

She said all workplace procedures relating to Cr Hoskin’s absence had been followed.

– Sharon Kemp