Mayor praises John Burt's contribution to the community

JOHN Burt has told councillors his resignation would allow them to move forward from Ballarat’s mayoral fixing scandal.

John Burt. FILE IMAGE

John Burt. FILE IMAGE

The Central Ward councillor resigned on Monday and has not spoken to The Courier since admitting he pressed for a Liberal-aligned mayor to lead Ballarat.

Mayor Joshua Morris described Mr Burt’s contribution to the city, through the council and the Ballarat Specialist School, as “significant” and his legacy as ongoing.

“When we were elected, having John as our first mayor, he really led us on an ambitious capital works program that we’re on at the moment,” Cr Morris

said. “When we were going through our council plan, he made a significant contribution in leading that.

“He certainly has put his heart and soul into the Specialist School as he did into council as a councillor.”

Controversy has dogged the Central Ward councillor since it was revealed he told four councillors a Liberal Party-aligned mayor would be to Ballarat’s advantage with a Coalition government in office at state level.

Cr Morris said in his discussions with Mr Burt, the former mayor said he felt the community and the media had been distracted by the issue.

“He spoke about the fact we have really positive things happening in this city,” Cr Morris said.

“For us as a council to move forward, he felt it was in the best interests of the city.

“I thought we could certainly move past this and find ourselves in a much better space but ... that was John’s decision.”

Cr Morris said he did not expect the resignation of the Liberal Party member to affect the council’s proposed 2014-15 budget.

A draft of the document, which largely continues the direction triggered under Cr Burt’s leadership, is on public exhibition.

Cr Morris said remaining councillors were “pressing ahead in a positive way”.

“We as a council group need to work closely together ... we are a diverse group and have a lot of diverse views. That’s one of the positives of our groups.”

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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