Minister, council in conflict over how to handle complaint
An investigation into the alleged inappropriate conduct of a South Burnett councillor has again been referred to the Minister for local government Steven Miles after six of seven councillors declared a conflict of interest.
According to a spokeswoman from the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, there has been a misunderstanding by the council regarding the minister's ability to resolve the current impasse, adding Mr Miles may only offer advice and cannot intervene.
"Council has a number of options open to it to progress with the matter," she said.
"These options include, where appropriate, a non-conflicted councillor allowing those councillors with conflicts of interest to participate and decide the matter.
"Additionally, the matter could be delegated to a Mayor, a Standing Committee or a chairperson of a Standing Committee.
"There is no power under the legislation for the Minister to make a decision about a councillor's conduct."
Councillors Danita Potter, Gavin Jones and Roz Frohloff all declared conflicts of interest due to being a party to a complaint and petition regarding the alleged inappropriate councillor conduct complaint investigation.
Councillor Kathy Duff and Mayor Brett Otto both declared conflicts of interest in the matter due to previous complaints lodged against them by the same complainant.
Councillor Scott Henschen identified himself as the subject of the investigation and therefore ineligible to vote on the matter.
The council did not discuss any details relating to the nature of the allegations.
"Regrettably the department hasn't formally replied to our request from the last meeting, so we're in a position where we need to go through this process again," CEO Mark Pitt said.
"What we recommend is that all councillors stay in the room as we deal with this matter procedurally and we will re-submit the recommendation of resolution."
The motion was moved unanimously.