Police called to escort councillor Giacomo Arnott from last Port Stephens Council meeting of 2019

Port Stephens councillor Giacomo Arnott and Mayor Ryan Palmer.
Port Stephens councillor Giacomo Arnott and Mayor Ryan Palmer.

Police from the nearby Raymond Terrace station had to be called to the council chambers at Tuesday night's Port Stephens Council meeting to escort Labor councillor Giacomo Arnott from the building.

Cr Arnott's expulsion came one hour 45 minutes into the meeting following a verbal stoush with mayor Ryan Palmer amid a flurry of point of orders, which was recorded on the council's webcast.

The meeting was adjourned for 15 minutes to allow the police to escort Cr Arnott, who had refused to leave the chamber, out the door.

Councillors Arnott and Palmer - who are both serving their first terms on council - have a history of confrontation and disagreement over policy. There had been threats of expulsion at previous meetings.

A notice of motion from mayor Palmer calling for an exemption for environmental approvals for non-maintenance road improvement works that occur in coastal management (or buffer) areas at Tuesday night's meeting was the catalyst for another clash between the pair.

This time the debate over who had seconded the notice of motion turned into chaos and the mayor, following a series of cautions, followed through on his threats.

The two traded words and gestures before a clearly flustered mayor called for a motion to have the councillor removed for "disorderly conduct".

Councillors gave the nod for expulsion and mayor Palmer called for a 15-minute adjournment while police were called.

Mayor Palmer told the Examiner "as a council we must hold our meetings to the highest standard possible to make the best decisions possible".

"It is regrettable that Cr Arnott over a long period of time has chosen not to adhere to these standards after numerous warnings. Last night Cr Arnott chose to not adhere to our code of meeting practice after the council voted to have him removed for the rest of the meeting due to continued disorderly conduct, and then chose to be removed by the police. This was after repeated calls for him to stop his disorderly conduct in the meeting."

Cr Arnott said after the meeting that he had been expelled from the council chamber for "rolling my eyes".

"After I tried to move a motion to improve transparency in council, the mayor's overreaction was typical of what I believe to be his unfair and inconsistent application of council's meeting rules. I was elected to stand up for what's right and to represent my community. That means I might disagree with mayor Palmer and others on occasion. If he wants to call the police on everyone who rolls their eyes at him, perhaps politics isn't his best career choice."

The meeting continued unabated following Cr Arnott's removal.

Cr Arnott had moments earlier lost a notice motion which called for "all voting at council meetings (including meetings that are closed to the public) must be recorded in the minutes of meetings with the names of councillors who voted for and against each motion or amendment (including the use of the casting vote) be recorded".

Tuesday's Port Stephens Council meeting was the last for 2019.

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