For the past seven years, Melbourne has been declared the world’s most liveable city by the Economist magazine. Throughout the entire period, Robert Doyle was lord mayor, and understandably chuffed by the serial accolade. He is widely considered a skilled and passionate salesman for the city.
Should Melbourne make it eight in a row, Mr Doyle will, of course, not be there to celebrate. His dramatic resignation, after accusations of sexual harassment were lodged by fellow councillors and other complainants, has ended the run of Melbourne’s longest serving lord mayor.
Mr Doyle has been hospitalised as a result of the stress associated with the accusations and the two official and independent investigations they sparked. Those investigations – one commissioned by the council and another by the state government (Mr Doyle also resigned from his role of chairman of Melbourne Health) – are ongoing and have been slowed by Mr Doyle’s ill health. While he continues to strenuously protest his innocence, we urge that the reports, or sections of the reports, be released publicly as soon as possible, in the interests of natural justice and transparency. Like everyone, Mr Doyle deserves the presumption of innocence. He, his accusers and the community will be poorly served should the reports be suppressed.
His resignation means voters will soon have to elect a replacement.
Whoever emerges as civic supremo faces crucial challenges. What should be the new lord mayor’s priorities? There is an evident need to radically improve the workplace culture of Town Hall. This is not only indicated by the furore surrounding Mr Doyle, but by a recent internal survey that was leaked to the media, which indicated an anxious, suspicious office.
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