In a controversial move, Mornington Peninsula councillor Susan Bissinger has been silenced by Mayor Steve Holland following her objections to permanently flying the progress Pride flag at council offices.
Bissinger, elected in 2021, expressed feeling 'under siege' and argued that the move could be 'divisive.'
In response, Mayor Holland has mandated her to attend a personal development course.
The conflict arose during an online exchange regarding the Pride flag proposal. Bissinger's opposition, perceived as 'poor behaviour,' led to external mediation.
Chief Executive John Baker issued a letter restricting Bissinger's communication solely to him, the chief financial officer, and three department heads, citing the Local Government Act.
Bissinger, representing Portsea, Sorrento, Blairgowrie, Rye, and Tootgarook, voiced concerns about her ability to work on community projects due to the ban.
Julie Collins from the Sorrento Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the situation's complexity but assured local businesses that their interactions with the council wouldn't be hindered.
This contentious episode raises questions about free speech within local government and the balance between personal beliefs and public representation.