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Council session raises dog shooting questions

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The North Central Review
The North Central Review
The North Central Review is an independently owned newspaper publishing company based in Kilmore that is responsible for publishing two community newspapers each week, covering communities within the Mitchell Shire

A Mitchell Shire ratepayer was effectively gagged at last week’s Mitchell Shire Council Community Questions and Hearings Committee.

Seymour farmer, Lance Marke attended the meeting with the intention of asking the committee about several issues relating to the owner of the dogs that attacked and killed two sheep not being prosecuted by Mitchell Shire Council.

While the minutes of the meeting state that Mr Marke “asked the following questions” he sat behind a muted microphone while his questions were read to the meeting by Mitchell CEO Brett Luxford.

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Mr Marke’s question, as read were: “Relating to this matter, what are the reasons why Mitchell Shire Council is not prosecuting the dog owner for allowing her dogs to wander?

“Relating to an incident near Tallarook in September 2023, where allegedly a farmer destroyed two dogs that had been found at large attacking sheep on his property, why has Mitchell Shire Council decided not to prosecute the identified owner of the dogs for the offence of “Allow dogs to wander”?

Mr Luxford then immediately responded with “Thank you for your question. Council cannot comment on this matter at this time as any response provided may compromise or prejudice the conduct of the case which is currently before the courts.”

Mr Marke then attempted to question Mr Luxford’s response and was literally shut down by Mitchell Shire Mayor, Cr Louise Bannister.

“No Sorry, Mr Marke, No Mr Marke. You cannot speak any further on this matter,” Cr Bannister said.

The gallery microphone was then un-muted and the vision turned on for a presentation from a Broadford community group.

Following the meeting Mr Marke said the reason for him attending the meeting and putting the questions was due to apparent double standards by the Shire and the public interest and debate in the widely reported case.

“As I understand it, the dog owner is not to be called before the Court as a prosecution witness in the case against the farmer and is currently not facing any charges, so Mitchell Shire Council has no sub-judice claim, so in my opinion can provide answers to my questions,” Mr Marke said.

“All we want is for Council to be transparent, accountable, and without bias in its decision-making process. The sooner we know this information, the better we may all understand any sound reasoning Council may have to offer.

“I am concerned about what I interpret as an inadequate response from Council regarding my question. It appears to me to be a ‘cop-out’ answer that does not pass the pub test,” he added.

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