“Following advice received from the Office of Local Government (OLG), Mrs Ann Loder has automatically vacated her civic office under section 234(1)(d) of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act),” read a statement issued by the Narrabri Shire Council.

“Mrs Loder had been absent from three consecutive ordinary meetings of Council without leave of absence.

“Given the circumstances, Council sought advice from the OLG regarding any available provisions for consideration of any extenuating circumstances. The advice to Council from the OLG was that no such provisions exist within the Act.

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“Council since February 2020 had consistently sought from Mrs Loder a request for leave and whilst Mrs Loder committed to providing a leave request on several occasions, she failed to do so which has resulted in the automatic vacancy of her civic office.

“Further advice from the OLG clearly articulated that the vacancy in civic office is automatic. Due to the relevant provisions in the Local Government Act there is no decision to be made by Council, similarly, there is also no decision to be made by the OLG.

“Council approached Mrs Loder with the opportunity to issue a joint media statement, Mrs Loder declined.”

Narrabri Shire Council also issued the following information with its media statement:

“OLG advice provided to Council:

• If a councillor is absent from three consecutive ordinary meetings of a council, without a leave of absence, then under section 234(1)(d) of the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) the councillor’s office in the council will automatically become vacant.

• Such a vacancy occurs automatically though the operation of the Act irrespective of the circumstances that gave rise to the councillor’s absence.

• No intervening decision or action is required for the vacancy to occur.

• Clause 5.4 of the Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils in NSW (and clause 5.3 of Narrabri Shire Council’s adopted code of meeting practice) makes it clear that, on its own, the making and acceptance of such an apology does not constitute the granting of a leave of absence for the purposes of section 234(1)(d).

• The vacancy in Mrs Loder’s civic office occurred when she missed the third consecutive ordinary meeting on April 28, 2020,” reads the statement issued by Narrabri Shire Council.

Statement from Ann Loder

“At the end of February 2020, after numerous tests and minor medical procedures, I was told that I had breast cancer,” said Ann Loder in a statement shared with The Courier.

“My medical team outlined my options and together, my family and I decided that the best course of action for me was to immediately undergo a double mastectomy, with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to follow.

“Upon learning of my medical schedule, I immediately emailed fellow Councillors and relevant staff at Narrabri Shire Council advising that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that I would be unable to complete my duties as a Councillor until further notice.

“I also stressed in this correspondence that I had no intention of resigning my position as a Councillor at Narrabri Shire Council.

“I also spoke to General Manager and the Mayor personally and advised them of my situation.

“My first operation was conducted on March 3, 2020 and since then I have had two further surgeries and one round of chemotherapy.

“I have not participated in any Council meetings nor Councillor Briefings since the middle of February 2020.

“I would like to stress that the past four months has been a very difficult time for my family and I, and this very stressful situation has been compounded by the restrictions and lockdowns put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been in a fog of the lasting effects of general anaesthetic and the shock of the surgery and my situation.

“I experienced a severe seizure at one point in the post-operative time and had to have emergency surgery, performed by a wonderful team who saved my life.

“The trauma of all this cannot be understated.

“Apologies have been recorded in the Council minutes for all three of the Council meetings I was unable to attend.

“I was stunned to hear that due to a formality I have been sacked as Councillor, I feel deeply let down, surely in all my time of trouble council staff could have filled out the form and brought it to me to sign?

“I wish to continue serving my community and will stand again.

“I wish to advise the Narrabri Shire community that I am exploring my options to have this decision overturned and in no way did I purposefully neglect my obligations under the Local Government Act.

“I want to thank Narrabri Shire ratepayers and residents for their continued support, prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery, and genuinely hope this issue can be resolved quickly and in the interests of common sense,” read the statement issued by Ann Loder.

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