Mayor cleared of misconduct allegation
MAYOR Tom Tate has been cleared of an allegation of misconduct.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal has found Councillor Tate did not engage in misconduct as he made a sufficient declaration of a personal interest, before deciding on a development application.
The Bulletin understands the allegations relate to the DA being debated during a council meeting on November 13 last year.
Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian in a statement today said a legal firm had been listed as consultants for a property development considered by the Gold Coast City Council.
"Two other councillors raised conflicts of interest regarding this legal firm and the non-conflicted councillors present and Mayor Tate, agreed that they both had a conflict of interest," Ms Florian said.
But Mayor Tate at the meeting had told them: "The lawyers act for me from time to time. I don't feel there's any conflict, not declaring anything."
"Mayor Tate did not provide any further detail on the nature of his interest, but he twice invited the other councillors to push him on it if they wanted to," Ms Florian said.
An investigation by the Office of the Independent Assessor found that Mayor Tate had engaged the legal firm over 17 years, on 46 matters and it was representing the councillor on two current matters.
The Independent Assessor submitted that the councillor's limited disclosure had denied the non-conflicted councillors the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether the councillor had a real or perceived conflict of interest.
The Tribunal found that "one might conclude that [Mayor Tate had] a perceived conflict of interest" in dealing with the development application due to his long association with the consultants for the development.
"But a misconduct finding was not sustained as the Tribunal considered that the Mayor's disclosure to the meeting was sufficient to meet his obligations under the Local Government Act," Ms Florian said.
"The Tribunal did not accept that the councillor had denied the non-conflicted councillors the opportunity to decide whether the councillor had a real or perceived conflict of interest, noting that the responsibility rested with the non-conflicted councillors to have pushed the matter further."