Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Gold Coast City councillor complaint decision
21 August 2019
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal has found that Mayor Tom Tate from the Gold Coast City Council did not engage in misconduct as he made a sufficient declaration of a personal interest, before deciding on a development application.
A legal firm were listed as the consultants for the property development. Two other councillors raised conflicts of interest regarding this legal firm and the non-conflicted councillors present and Mayor Tate, agreed that they both had a conflict of interest.
Mayor Tate however stated: ‘the lawyers act for me from time to time. I don’t feel there’s any conflict, not declaring anything’. Mayor Tate did not provide any further detail on the nature of his interest, but he twice invited the other councillors to push him on it if they wanted to.
An investigation by the Office of the Independent Assessor found that Mayor Tate had engaged the legal firm over 17 years, on 46 matters and were representing the councillor on two current matters.
The Independent Assessor submitted that the councillor’s limited disclosure had denied the non-conflicted councillors the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether the councillor had a real or perceived conflict of interest.
The Tribunal found that “one might conclude that [Mayor Tate had] a perceived conflict of interest” in dealing with the development application due to his long association with the consultants for the development.
But a misconduct finding was not sustained as the Tribunal considered that the Mayor’s disclosure to the meeting was sufficient to meet his obligations under the Local Government Act.
The Tribunal did not accept that the councillor had denied the non-conflicted councillors the opportunity to decide whether the councillor had a real or perceived conflict of interest, noting that the responsibility rested with the non-conflicted councillors to have pushed the matter further.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal decision can be found here.
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Last updated: Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019