Fur­ther gripes on lake con­duct

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - PAUL WE­STON paul.we­[email protected]

GOLD Coast City coun­cil­lors are fac­ing a fresh wave of com­plaints about al­leged in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct re­gard­ing Black Swan Lake.

Since the start of De­cem­ber, 37 com­plaints have been lodged on the Coun­cil­lor Con­duct Regis­ter. They range from al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, mak­ing mislead­ing pub­lic state­ments and bul­ly­ing.

The Of­fice of the In­de­pen­dent As­ses­sor (OIA) found a coun­cil­lor had breached the ex­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion pol­icy by mak­ing a false state­ment in a me­dia re­lease, but no fur­ther ac­tion was taken.

“The state­ment was in­ac­cu­rate, how­ever there were mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors, and fur­ther ac­tion would not be jus­ti­fi­able use of re­sources,” the notes on the regis­ter said.

The OIA also in­ves­ti­gated al­le­ga­tions that dur­ing a coun­cil meet­ing a coun­cil­lor re­fused a ques­tion from a col­league along with a pro­ce­dural mo­tion, and later threat­ened the coun­cil­lor.

No fur­ther ac­tion was taken be­cause the con­duct was not deemed in­ap­pro­pri­ate un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act.

Most of the com­plaints did not re­quire ac­tion be­cause the mat­ters ei­ther failed to iden­tify in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct or were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion.

A Bul­letin re­port in March last year said the State’s cor­rup­tion body was han­dling up to 15 com­plaints in­volv­ing coun­cil­lors and their Reg­is­ters of In­ter­ests re­gard­ing turf club mem­ber­ships after coun­cil voted to fill in the Bun­dall “bor­row pit” for a car park.

The fresh com­plaints in­clude al­le­ga­tions that:

• Coun­cil failed to con­sider a pe­ti­tion with 40,000 sig­na­tures call­ing for works to fill in the lake to stop.

• A coun­cil­lor “con­tin­u­ally bul­lied any­one” who dis­cussed the li­cence for the turf club to oc­cupy the site.

• A coun­cil­lor falsely told the me­dia that the wa­ter in the lake was toxic.

• No con­sul­ta­tion oc­curred with lo­cal indige­nous fam­i­lies prior to de­ci­sions be­ing made.

• A coun­cil­lor lied in a pub­lic fo­rum in 2016 by say­ing the lake would be pre­served but later “al­lowed its de­struc­tion”.

Black Swan Lake Com­mu­nity Group leader Tammy Ho­gan said her mem­bers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Wildlife Queens­land had com­plained about the be­hav­iour of in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lors.

“We are work­ing with the lo­cal indige­nous group,” Ms Ho­gan said. “There’s im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion we want the OIA to look at.”

A City spokeper­son con­firmed coun­cil had or­gan­ised for the regis­ter to be made avail­able on­line after re­forms to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act. Coun­cil was not con­cerned by the num­ber of com­plaints and said many had been dis­missed or were be­ing con­sid­ered by the cor­rup­tion watch­dog.

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