Belot sets record straight on conflict allegations
LIVINGSTONE Shire Councillor Adam Belot has spoken publicly for the first time about the circumstances which saw him and three colleagues investigated over conflict of interest allegations.
Cr Belot and councillors Glenda Mather, Tom Wyatt and Pat Eastwood were investigated for their involvement in the controversial Bungundarra Road subdivision development application made by Colin and Monica Roebuck.
All councillors were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Office of the Independant Assessor - Queensland’s independent body which probes complaints about councillor conduct.
After the complaint about the quartet was lodged, either in late September or early October, the four councillors withdrew from all council discussions on the Roebuck’s eventually-approved application until they were cleared.
Rightly or wrongly, the councillors were given advice not to talk about the conflict of interest allegations while the investigation was in process.
Now Cr Belot wants to set the record straight.
“This allegation arose following an admission by myself that in late August, 2019, myself and three other councillors attended an on-site meeting with the developers, with no council officer present,” Cr Belot said.
“This meeting was called by the developer as no person from Livingstone Shire Council had inspected the proposed development in three years.
“Essentially, I did not believe I had a conflict of interest which would justify excluding myself from the decision making process.
“However the advice sought by Mayor (Bill) Ludwig suggested that due to an outstanding investigation of misconduct with the OIA, declaring a perceived conflict was required.”
Cr Belot has also weighed in on the advice that councillors must maintain confidentiality in relation to ongoing OIC investigations - something that effectively prevented councillors from disclosing what the perceived conflict was.
“This advice is incorrect as the Local Government Act requires a councillor to declare the nature of a conflict, real or perceived,” Cr Belot said.
“To do otherwise would not foster transparency and accountability.”
It took Livingstone more than three years to approve the Roebuck’s development application and an agreement on conditions was only reached this month.
In the wash-up to the long-running saga, Cr Belot said he intends to move a motion at council in the new year that any advice (legal or otherwise) sought by Livingstone for the benefit of councillors, must be provided in a formal manner either in writing or in the presence of all whom the advice relates to.