Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Cassowary Coast councillor decisions
7 May 2019
The Mayor and two councillors of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council have each been ordered to make public admissions that they had engaged in misconduct and pay a total of $400 in fines.
Mayor John Kremastos, Cr Rick Taylor and Cr Jeffery Baines failed to declare a conflict of interest while voting to award a council contract to an election donor.
They advised the Office of the Independent Assessor that they failed to declare their personal interest when the donor, who contributed $200 to their Cassowary Coast Unity Alliance’s election campaign, was awarded a construction contract for extensions to an Innisfail council facility.
Councillors Kremastos and Taylor also failed to record their membership of the Cassowary Coast Unity Association, which oversaw the legal requirements of the Alliance, in their register of interests.
They submitted their failure to include the membership in their register of interests was a genuine error as they were acting on incorrect advice that the Association had been wound up.
Mayor Kremastos stated he identified his failure to declare a conflict of interest within 24 hours and took appropriate steps to correct his actions, and the actions of others.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal found both matters were a breach of the trust placed in the councillors adding it is incumbent upon councillors, and especially a Mayor, to be vigilant and make appropriate enquires to satisfy themselves that they are meeting their legal obligations.
The Tribunal said, as Cr Kremastos was a Mayor, it is reasonable that he is held to a higher standard of conduct.
The tribunal strongly recommended the councillors work with the council CEO to adopt a robust conflict of interest process as it was clear that none of the councillors had an effective process in place.
The complaints were fast tracked by the Office of the Independent Assessor to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal which noted the full and early co-operation of the councillors which saved the OIA the cost of a full investigation.
Cr Kremastos was ordered to make public admissions at a Cassowary Coast council meeting that he engaged in two counts of misconduct and pay a $100 fine for failing to update his register of interests. He was not fined for the conflict of interest breach as he quickly reported and rectified the issue.
Cr Taylor was ordered to make public admissions at a Cassowary Coast council meeting that he engaged in two counts of misconduct and was fined $100 for the conflict of interest breach and a further $100 for failing up update his register of interests.
Cr Baines was ordered to make a public admission at a Cassowary Coast council meeting that he engaged in misconduct and was fined $100 for the conflict of interest breach.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.
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Last updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019