- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.



Friday, 6 January 2012

Councillor found guilty of criticising fellow councillors

Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2012
*Media Release*

Gosford City Greens Councillor Peter Freewater has been found to have
breached the council's 'Code of Conduct' policy for publically criticising
decisions made by the majority of councillors.

See SMH story here:
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/councillor-frustrated-over-code-of-conduct-20120104-1pl9j.html

With the NSW government currently reviewing the Model Code of Conduct ahead
of the September 2012 local government elections, Clr Freewater's
experience is a case study of the broader problems with the Local
Government Model Code of Conduct in NSW, and the need for more than token
reform.

Greens NSW MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"In many councils code of conduct complaints have become political weapons
and are used to fight essentially partisan battles using council resources.

"Councillor Freewater was raising legitimate matters for public debate and
he should not have been prosecuted for raising them publicly.

"This case highlights some of the problems with the Code of Conduct.  Each
of these complaints should have been seen for what they were – political
attacks on an inconvenient political voice.

"There needs to be a fundamental change in the way complaints under the
Code are initially assessed, with an early, independent and objective
review being undertaken by a person well removed from the council's
political machinations.

"General Managers, who only remain in office if they keep the political
support of a majority of councillors, should have no role whatsoever in
assessing Code of Conduct complaints.

"Councillor Freewater has been found to have breached the code of conduct
because he was a strident critic of some decisions of his council that he
voted against.  In effect he has been found 'guilty' of being a councillor.

"It is fairly clear that the Code of Conduct is not being used to raise the
standard of councillor behaviour, rather it has become a petty political
tool for those who are willing to use it," Mr Shoebridge.

Media contact: 0408 113 952

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