Councillor Peter Moore.
Councillor Peter Moore.

Cr Moore apologises for conduct

BALLINA Councillor Peter Moore has publicly apologised for failing to declare a perceived conflict of interest when he voted on proposed changes to Ballina’s Ramada Hotel late last year.

Cr Moore used yesterday’s council meeting to issue the apology, saying he made an ‘error’ in not explaining his reasons for voting on the issue after years of excluding himself from matters connected to Lennox Head developer Chris Condon because of a ‘close, personal friendship’.

Cr Moore said his relationship with Mr Condon had changed and they were no longer good friends.

At the meeting, he said his misjudgement in December 2009 was failing to recognise that as far as the community knew, his relationship with Mr Condon was still close and personal.

“My error was that I intended to vote in a matter where Mr Condon is one of many local families who are shareholders,” Cr Moore told the meeting.

“That was an error. It was an error that I didn’t stand up (and explain the changed relationship to council).

“My mistake was that I didn’t judge the perceptions of others well enough. For this I am sorry.”

Cr Moore’s mistake triggered a complaint from the Ballina Environment Society and businessman John Cordina that Cr Moore had breached the council’s code of conduct by not declaring a non-pecuniary interest.

The complaint made it to the NSW Department of Local Government before being sent back to the council forinvestigation by its Code of Conduct Committee.

Committee member and former Ballina general manager Gary Faulks found Cr Moore had breached the code because a perception of that interest still lingered in the community, even if the ‘close’ friendship between the two men had long since dissolved.

In a sometimes intense discussion, councillors debated what steps to take over the finding – eventually agreeing to take no action against Cr Moore, but to require training for councillors and staff in the code of conduct and that Mr Faulks’ findings be published on the council’s website.

Speaking after the meeting, Cr Moore repeated his apology, but said the breach had been ‘technical’ in nature and that he had consulted with general manager Paul Hickey and several councillors, including Keith Johnson, who levelled a similar complaint against him in 2005, beforedeciding to vote on the matter.

Cr Moore said his friendship with Mr Condon ceased being ‘close’ so long ago it felt dishonest to continue declaring it.

The complaint and the subsequent public scrutiny had put stress on Cr Moore and his family, disproportionate to the scale of the error, he said.

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