Complaints over councillor’s alleged conflict of interest
One Southern Downs councillor has justified her transparency on the Warwick Saleyards upgrade to residents today after it was revealed several complaints had been lodged against her.
Councillor Cynthia McDonald was apart of the Saleyard Advisory Committee dedicated to building a business case for potential upgrades to the agricultural hub, but Wednesday's council meeting revealed not everyone approved of the choice.
When a council motion to release the business case publicly came up, Cr McDonald revealed three complaints were launched against her on the basis of her role as a producer.
The complaints forced her out of the last committee meeting and raised questions over her say as a councillor.
Cr McDonald she would be "comfortable" releasing the complaints to her colleagues so they could decide if the conflict was substantiated.
She also revealed lawyers and an independent assessor were dealing with the issue.
"I would say it is rather interesting how similar the complaints are," Cr McDonald told the council meeting.
"It would appear to me someone is trying to alter the decision, or not allow me to stay in the room for a decision."
Fellow councillors backed Cr McDonald, with Cr Andrew Gale stating anyone across the world could put in a complaint.
"Someone could create havoc for the local justice system just by putting in complaints with people," he told the meeting.
"The mere fact there is a complaint in there shouldn't be a reason to kick out someone."
Cr Marco Gliori backed this, saying other members of the advisory committee refused to attend meetings in support of Cr McDonald after the conflict allegations were revealed.
"They were devastated a councillor, simply by their occupation and through no other means, was not allowed in the room," he said.
"I mention there was great concern around the room that they also had as much, if not more, conflicts of interests, if Cr McDonald was the benchmark of conflicts of interest."
Cr McDonald was eventually allowed to stay while councillors discussed the recommendations.
Council voted unanimously to publicly include the Warwick Saleyards Business Case, including financials, as part of a future report to council expected in Februrary.