Maureen Searson - 12 February 2019
Maureen Searson addressed council regarding the pecuniary interest at the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 February 2019.
During the Council's kiosks over recent weeks an issue has been raised in relation to the inclusion of a gym in the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre. In reply to questions about the reason for a gym in the now over $51 million development at Mackay Park, Council's Project Manager told a member of the public that owners of Onelife Gym (close relatives of Mayor Innes) have "expressed an interest in occupying" the gym in the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre.
My question is not in relation to the business case for the gym but about the important issue of transparency and accountability to the public.
Mayor Innes I'm sure you have a full understanding of the Code of Meeting Practice but for members of the public who may not aware:
* Part 4.3 of the Model Code of Conduct states "any conflict of interests must be managed to uphold the probity of council decision-making. When considering whether or not you have a conflict of interest, it is always important to think about how others would view your situation."
* Part 4.12 of the Act states "Where you have a non-pecuniary interest that conflicts with your public duty, you must disclose the interest fully in writing, even if the conflict is not significant. You must do this as soon as practicable."
* Part 4.17 states "if you determine that a non-pecuniary conflict of interests is less than significant and does not require further action, you must provide an explanation of why you consider the conflict does not require further action in the circumstances."
Given what the various parts of Model Code of Conduct say about conflicts of pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests can you Mayor Innes assure the public that you have avoided or appropriately managed "any conflicts of interests." Part 4 4.2 is explicit “The onus is on you to identify a conflict of interest and take the appropriate action to manage the conflict in favor of your public duty."
The public's perceptions of how public officials use political power matters, particularly in a time of growing distrust in politics which is a detriment to democracy.
Council’s Mode Code of Conduct, Part 4 Conflict of Interest, states: ‘4.1 A conflict of interest exists where a reasonable and informed person would perceive that you could be influenced by a private interest when carrying out your public duty’.
As no decision has been made with regard to the operating model of the proposed gym it is considered that the Mayor, at present, does not have a conflict of interest.