Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Gympie councillor decision
23 May 2019
A councillor has been urged to disclose a personal interest at future council meetings to be transparent and possibly avoid complaints which can be stressful to a councillor and costly to a council.
The advice from the Councillor Conduct Tribunal follows a decision that a complaint against the councillor had not been sustained.
It was alleged the councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest as the owner of a business in small town while approving streetscaping improvements to be implemented as part of the Our Towns Program in a council meeting.
The Our Towns Program included landscaping and other beautification works adjacent to the business.
The Office of the Independent Assessor submitted that the councillor had engaged in misconduct by failing to inform the meeting of his personal interest in the matter, but agreed that any benefit to the councillor’s business was not significant.
The councillor stated his conduct did not amount to misconduct as he did not have any intention to benefit from the works and was not involved in the selection of the improvements.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal considered the overall purpose of the Our Towns program and the benefits of the plan to the town.
It was noted that the benefits were of a general nature improving or maintaining the environmental ambiance of the town centre.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal said it could be seen that the councillor did have an interest in the improved town centre environment, but it was satisfied that the program benefitted the community as a whole, and did not give any individual property or business owner an advantage over another.
The Tribunal noted that transparency cannot be assumed just because the councillor and his business were known to people in the area.
The Tribunal decision did not name the councillor, as the complaint was not sustained.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.
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Last updated: 23 May 2019