‘Put your skirt back on’, Newcastle councillors clash in text message fight

Fallout: Deputy Mayor Jason Dunn, left, has lodged a code of conduct complaint against independent councillor Allan Robinson. PICTURE: Jonathan CarrollA text message fight between two Newcastle councillorsis set to cost ratepayers at least $2000 after deputy mayor Jason Dunn complained that colourful independent Allan Robinson called himan“incompetent puppet” and to“put your skirt back on”.

In an episode that revealsthe increased tensionbetweencouncillors in the lead up to the September election, theNewcastle Heraldhas seen text messages sent by Cr Robinson in which he called the deputy mayor a “lightweight” and said he would “have a look at your expenses”, an apparent reference to theexpenses saga that has dogged Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

The exchange has prompted Cr Dunn tolodgean official code of conduct complaint against the combative retiredjockey, calling his comments “abusive and threatening”and stating he does“not know what CrRobinsonis capable of”.

But Cr Robinson has dismissed the complaint, saying Cr Dunn should “focus on his job” and blasting Labor for “wasting more money”.

“Think about how much smashed avocado lunches they could have bought for $2000,” he said.

The argument between the two councillors started after Cr Robinson gave an interview on local breakfast radioin February, and was told Cr Dunn had called to askfor atranscript of the interview.

Cr Robinson sentthe Labor deputy mayor the following text message:“Jason they tell me you rang up wanting a copy of the interview I treat everyone fairly and I’m a stickler for giving people back what they give me so keep this text you might need it”.

Cr Dunn, who denies having any idea that Cr Robinson had given an interview and asking for the transcript,took offense to the message.

In a code of conduct complaint seen by theHeraldCr Dunn said the message was“abusive and offensive”, suggestedhe was “incompetent”, and that he “acts under the direction or control of someone else”.

“I found it to be a threat that I or my family would suffer some kind of retribution for something CrRobinsonbelieved I had done,” Cr Dunn said in his complaint.

“I took this threat very seriously. I do not know what CrRobinsonis capable of, and I am concerned about my welfare and that of my family.”

After receiving the message, Cr Dunntold Cr Robinson he would lodge a code of conduct complaint against him, and not to contact him again.

Cr Robinson replied: “That’s beautiful you look after yourself put your skirt back on you incompetent puppet”.

The council has employed a code of conduct reviewer to investigate the complaint, but Cr Robinson has defended himself, saying he was “not threatening” Cr Dunn and “only telling him that he was going to give it to me I would give it back”.

He said he had been told investigating the complaint would cost “more than $2000”.

“It’s a disgrace,” he said.

It’s not the first time Cr Dunn has reacted to harsh comments from fellow councillors.

In 2012 theHeraldreported that he had taken exception after former Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy left a voicemail on his phone likening him to“apetty little schoolgirl”.

Cr Dunn declined to comment because, he said, it was against the council’s code of conduct rules to do so.

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