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Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Cassowary Coast councillor decision

20 August 2019

A fourth Cassowary Coast councillor has been fined for failing to declare a conflict of interest while voting to award a council contract to an election donor and failing to update his register of interests.

Cr Ben Heath was fined a total of $200 and joins the Mayor and two other councillors to have misconduct matters sustained that relate to their election campaign as members of the Cassowary Coast Unity Alliance.

The councillors all advised the Office of the Independent Assessor that they failed to declare their personal interest when an election 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.

Councillor Heath also failed to record his membership of the Cassowary Coast Unity Association, which oversaw the legal requirements of the Alliance, in his register of interests.

The Councillor Conduct Tribunal noted that the end result was that an important factor of statutory integrity compliance for councillors was inaccurate.

The Tribunal recommended that Councillor Heath 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 Tribunal which noted the full and early co-operation of the councillor which saved the OIA the cost of a full investigation into these matters.

Cr Heath was ordered to make public admissions at a Cassowary Coast Regional 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.

The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.



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Last updated: 20 Aug 2019