Tri­bunal rules on Melchert

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Scott Tib­balls

FORMER Dou­glas Shire coun­cil­lor Terry Melchert has been found to have en­gaged in mis­con­duct by the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Re­mu­ner­a­tion and Dis­ci­pline Tri­bunal.

In a de­ci­sion handed down in Novem­ber and re­leased to the Gazette un­der a Right to In­for­ma­tion re­quest, the tri­bunal said Mr Melchert was wrong in Jan­uary 2015 to have posted ques­tions on­line that he had been de­nied the op­por­tu­nity raise at a coun­cil meet­ing.

The ques­tions re­lated to Mr Melchert’s at­tempt to have the coun­cil waive a penalty no­tice is­sued to Richard Laven­der, the or­gan­iser of the Haunt­ing of Oak Beach.

The tri­bunal ruled the ques­tions were found to have been formed us­ing con­fi­den­tial coun­cil doc­u­ments, and rep­re­sented Cr Melchert’s per­sonal opin­ion that a coun­cil of­fi­cer had acted un­law­fully in is­su­ing the or­gan­iser of the Haunt­ing of Oak Beach an in­fringe­ment no­tice.

That opin­ion had also been reached by re­ly­ing on in­for­ma­tion avail­able to him as a coun­cil­lor.

The re­port says the coun­cil of­fi­cer be­lieved Cr Melchert’s post had the “po­ten­tial to in­ter­fere” with the of­fi­cer’s “du­ties as an au­tho­rised of­fi­cer with­out fac­ing an­i­mos­ity or dis­trust from mem­bers of the pub­lic”.

The re­port noted that the tri­bunal fol­lowed through with its in­ves­ti­ga­tion and find­ings even after Cr Melchert lost re­elec­tion ear­lier this year, be­cause of the “time, ef­fort and ex­pense which has gone into [the al­le­ga­tions] in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Cr Melchert’s de­fence of them.”

Dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against (fmr) Cr Melchert re­lies upon his be­com­ing a DSC coun­cil­lor again in the fu­ture.

If he does, he will be re­quired to make an ad­mis­sion of er­ror and de­liver an apol­ogy to the of­fi­cer that made the com­plaint for hurt, dis­tress of hu­mil­i­a­tion caused by his post on on­line, and to the DSC for pub­lish­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion and/or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion in the same post.

“Such apolo­gies are to be de­liv­ered orally in the first open ses­sion of Coun­cil at­tended by him if he is again elected,” the re­port says.

The next Queens­land Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment elec­tion is in 2020.

In a sep­a­rate mat­ter, the Re­gional Con­duct Re­view Panel up­held an al­le­ga­tion by a coun­cil of­fi­cer against former Cr Melchert that he breached the trust placed in him as a coun­cil­lor by fail­ing to hand over record­ings he made of coun­cil meet­ings, and as a re­sult failed to en­sure Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil com­plied with the Pub­lic Records Act and Right To In­for­ma­tion Act.

The panel found that the mis­con­duct was se­ri­ous, but “not in the high­est scale of mis­con­duct.”

Mr Melchert was or­dered to pay $500 to Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil by December 31 2016, and an­other $1000 by April 30 2017. The order does not de­pend on Mr Melchert re­turn­ing as a coun­cil­lor.

Terry Melchert

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