Big Rob v Lismore Council
LISMORE CBD business owner and local government activist 'Big Rob' (aka Rob Bou-Hamdan) is prepared to defy Lismore City Council orders, saying he will attend the first general meeting of the year in defiance of instructions demanded by general manager Gary Murphy.
And the man who regularly 'rants' about the so-called failings of our local government on his blog (at bigrobs.com.au) has recently been nominated for an Australia Day award. Even if he doesn't get a gong, he says he will be bemused by the fact that Mayor Jennie Dowell, whom he has nicknamed 'Devious Dowell' will have to hand him a certificate congratulating him on his nomination during ceremonies on Saturday.
Big Rob's rants, and his insulting nicknames - which extend to other councillors 'Simple Smith' and 'Confused Clough' - are part of a stand-off between the 41 year old businessman and Lismore City Council.
His abrupt manner has seen him banned from entering council buildings except when general meetings are being held because of his "high risk unreasonable complaint conduct."
In a letter dated December 20, Mr Murphy requested Big Rob give an undertaking in writing to abide by certain behaviours, or the bans would continue and be extended to include all public meetings held by council.
The conditions he has been asked to agree to include remaining polite and respectful to all councillors and staff; to not record conversations with council staff and to not put private correspondence with council online.
"As you are aware Lismore City Council has had and continues to have serious concerns regarding your continuing behaviour toward council, its staff, councillors and others," wrote Mr Murphy.
He said Council had a duty to provide a safe workplace.
"Council considers that your continuing behaviour toward its staff, councillors and others constitutes a risk to health and safety and, in accordance with its legislative obligations, Council must address and manage this risk."
But Big Rob is refusing to give any written commitment, stating his rights as outlined in section 10 of the Local Government Act.
"Council must have a resolution from the floor on the day of the meeting if they want to ban me from that particular meeting," he said.
"They are simply discriminating against me. They have no evidence, no footage, no police report.
"I am always polite. The worst thing I do is call the mayor 'Devious Dowell' but this is what we do in Australia. We make fun of our politicians. We nickname them and tell the truth."
Big Rob says he will continue to lobby against alcohol related violence and continue to call for equitable enforcement.
"I believe everyone should be treated the same," he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon general manager Gary Murphy offered to enter into and pay for mediation with Mr Bou-Hamdan, who has accepted the offer.