Confidential advice leaked
LISMORE councillor Graham Meineke has added more fuel to a heated local election campaign by releasing confidential legal advice to council that indicates several councillors may have breached their code of conduct.
The advice from Maddocks law firm relates to councillors Jenny Dowell, Vanessa Ekins, Ros Irwin and Frank Swientek missing extraordinary meetings in June when the council was due to vote on an issue relating to a development at McLeans Ridges.
The advice from Maddocks states: “The Local Government Act (1993) requires councillors to attend meetings that are duly called, including extraordinary meetings. Failing to attend a meeting without being granted a leave of absence, in our opinion, may be considered a breach of the code and in certain circumstances may lead to disqualification from civic office.”
However, Council General Manager Paul O'Sullivan said no further action was warranted.
Cr Dowell said she was surprised Cr Meineke had released the document. “There have been several unusual political tactics in this campaign,” she said.
Cr Dowell said it was outgoing mayor Merv King's job to release the advice, not Cr Meineke's.
Cr Meineke said he released the advice, despite Cr King telling him he did not want it released in the week before the election. “I think it's important for people to know those councillors have breached the code of conduct by not taking due diligence and taking the law into their own hands,” he said.
Cr Dowell said she had received different legal advice and she stood by her decision.