Gympie Councillors Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Councillors Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.

Councillors under fire over letters to the editor

GYMPIE’S councillors have come under fire for allegedly writing “misleading” letters to the editor and failing to declare conflicts of interest – but none of the complaints have held water.

Gympie Regional Council’s Councillor Conduct Register reveals a dozen complaints were lodged against the region’s elected members in the past year.

All of the complaints were thrown out.

Two of them were over letters sent by councillors to The Gympie Times.

One alleged a councillor “provided misleading information to the community in regards to the cost of a council endorsed publication”.

Council chambers.
Council chambers.

This was tossed by the Office of the Independent Assessor as it would be “an unjustifiable use of resources” to take further action as the councillor had detailed how he reached his figure, and prefaced it as an “estimate”.

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Another complaint claimed a councillor had “regularly written to the media criticising other councillors who have voted in favour of items where the councillor had voted against the same items, had provided false information to the media” and failed to declare a conflict of interest over a decision on Widgee Engineering’s fate.

Widgee Engineering.
Widgee Engineering.

The OIA dismissed the claims, saying several had already been shot down by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal in 2018 and the complainant failed to sufficiently back the claim with evidence.

Three more of the 12 complaints needed a formal resolution.

One made last December claimed a councillor was “improperly involved in a procurement process” and failed to declare a conflict of interest.

The OIA found “no basis to conclude the councillor engaged in inappropriate conduct or misconduct”.

A second allegation claimed a councillor failed to comply with the Local Government Act on February 24, 2016, and deal with a conflict of interest in a transparent way. The Councillor Conduct Tribunal found it was not a breach of the Act “on the balance of probabilities”.

The third claim, that a councillor failed to report another councillor’s potential conflict of interest on January 23 this year, was dismissed due to “insufficient evidence”.

Gympie Times


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