Statement by the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian - Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor decision
10 November 2020
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Margaret Strelow has been found to have engaged in misconduct after failing to record flights and other hospitality provided by the resources company Adani on her register of interests.
Cr Strelow was among a number of Queensland mayors who took part in a trade mission to India in March 2017.
On 18 March 2017, she took a flight from Mumbai to Madurai where she was driven to and from a solar plant at Kamuthi before taking a second flight to Chennai for a dinner with Adani board members and six other mayors.
The dinner, flights and other transport were paid for by Adani.
In June 2018, the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs (DLGRMA) requested that Cr Strelow record the hospitality in her register of interests, but she declined to do so.
The matter was referred to the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) soon after it was established in December 2018, and the OIA provided Cr Strelow with another opportunity to amend her register but she again declined.
The Mayor claimed that she was not required to declare the hospitality in her personal register of interests as she had been acting in an official capacity.
The Independent Assessor subsequently referred the matter to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which found Cr Strelow had engaged in misconduct, as her publicly available register of interest was inaccurate for more than two years.
The CCT noted that Cr Strelow acknowledged she had received a hospitality interest by recording the details in the council hospitality register, which was not available to the public.
It also noted that the hospitality was received from Adani, “a large corporation with significant business and mining interests in the central Queensland and Rockhampton districts”.
While the CCT acknowledged that Cr Strelow had obtained legal advice, it found that there exists a clear and ongoing obligation for registers of interest to be accurately updated by councillors throughout their entire term, consistent with accountability and transparency requirements in the Local Government Act 2009.
Cr Strelow has no previous disciplinary history.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.
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Last updated: Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020