Hotel bid provokes complaint
A FORMAL complaint has been lodged about Ballina Councillor Peter Moore’s relationship with one of the shire’s most prominent developers, Chris Condon.
The Point restaurant owner, John Cordina, made the complaint after Cr Moore voted on a change of use application for the Ramada Hotel at the council’s December meeting.
A decision on the application, which would allow 94 of the 115 units to be used by permanent residents, was deferred pending a further report.
Mr Cordina said approval would have a negative impact on his business.
He said Cr Moore should not have voted because of pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests relating to a friendship with Mr Condon, who was involved with the Ramada development.
He is now calling for Cr Moore to stand down from the council.
But Cr Moore strongly denies a conflict of interest and stands by his decision to vote on the application.
“That decision was not made lightly,” he said.
“I talked to the general manager, the mayor and some of the other councillors. I am very much of the belief that there is no conflict of interest.
“For the last five years I have declared a non-pecuniary interest based on a friendship with Chris Condon. That friendship, which may have existed many years ago, is a friendship that is no longer close and personal. We’re friends in the way that I have friends across the whole community. It does not bring me into conflict.”
Cr Moore also said that given ‘many shareholders’ were involved with the Ramada, he felt he had a ‘responsibility’ to vote on the matter.
“I have an obligation to represent my community and all parties, for and against,” he said.
“I am not worried about the complaint. People have the right to raise concerns.
“If, after further advice, it is believed that there is an ongoing perception that I have a conflict of interest, I will then make a decision on whether or not I should continue to vote on the matter.”
The council’s general manager, Paul Hickey, confirmed he received Mr Cordina’s complaints via email.
“Complaints involving pecuniary interests go straight to the Department of Local Government, so those emails have been sent on,” he said.
Mr Hickey will address the non-pecuniary matters once he receives advice from the department.
“At this stage Peter is still entitled to vote (on the Ramada application),” he said.
A further report on the Ramada is expected to be presented to councillors either this month or next month.
Although Cr Moore has not been contacted by the Department of Local Government, he said he would fully co-operate if there was an investigation.