News

Wearing the cost of complaining

Tweed council chambers, Murwillumbah
Tweed council chambers, Murwillumbah

TWEED Shire Council has spent at least four times as much on code of conduct complaints as any other Northern Rivers council and nearly three times the average of similarly sized NSW councils.

The council's code of conduct bill was $40,000 between September 1, 2012 and August 2013.

The money was spent on 11 complaints made by and against undisclosed parties for reasons that are not revealed, figures released by the Office of Local Government show.

The figures only cover those complaints made against councillors and the general manager without distinguishing how many, if at all, were made against what parties.

They do not cover complaints against council staff, which are not required to be publicly released.

Of the comparatively sized councils, Shoalhaven had to deal with the highest number of code of conduct complaints, 19, but spent only $37,280 doing so.

Coffs Harbour had the second highest number with 17, which cost only $14,175.

Locally Lismore spent $10,000 on one complaint while Byron Shire racked up $6500 on four complaints.

Nine of the 11 Tweed complaints did not proceed beyond the preliminary assessment stage.

The figures, which are mandatory for councils to report, are the only real indicator of what goes on behind closed doors with the secretive code of conduct complaints.

Under State Government rules councillors, staff and even the Office, are not permitted to publicly comment on such matters.

Most complaints don't progress beyond the initial assessment, but it's not publicly revealed why.

They appear to simply disappear behind closed doors and the public is expected to trust council properly assessed it.

This is to stop reputations being unfairly damaged, but it is also a situation which lacks transparency and certainly in Tweed Shire has bred mistrust.

The council's general manager Troy Green said residents should take comfort from the fact that only two of the complaints were shown to have any basis.

Mr Green said that during the period the council saved money by being under a Special Complaints Management Arrangement with the Office.

"The figure would have been comparatively higher if matters had to have been referred to members of Council's Code of Conduct Panel or if dealt with by the Complaints Co-ordinator," Mr Green said.

"All complaints made are assessed, be they vexatious or otherwise and they come with a cost."

Many ratepayers will no doubt be wondering how many potholes $40,000 could fix.

Topics:  tweed heads, tweed shire council



Tweed deluge breaks rainfall records

Harrison Powick and Amy van den Akker have some fun at Murwillumbah after heavy rain.

August average rainfalls demolished.

Man hospitalised after Tweed Heads home invasion

Police.
Photo: Valerie Horton / Fraser Coast Chronicle

Man suffers serious head injuries after Tweed Heads home invasion

Latest deals and offers

Single-day tickets on sale for each date of Falls Festival

LAUNCH: The Avalanches' Robbie Chater and Tony Diblasi were the official DJs at the Byron Bay launch of Falls Festival 2016/17.

Find out when is each artist playing this year in Byron Bay

MOVIE REVIEW: War Dogs tells a fascinating true story

Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in a scene from the movie War Dogs.

DARKLY funny film examines the business side of the war on terror.

Marvel-ous: Thor actors visit sick kids at Lady Cilento

Stars of Thor: Ragnarok dropped in on patients at the hospital

Folk singer looking forward to her Gympie Muster debut

Alternative country folk singer Fanny Lumsden will perform at the Gympie Muster.

FANNY Lumsden to serenade new fans with her country hall-style show.

Patti Smith confirmed for Bluesfest 2017

CONFIRMED: US singer Patti Smith performing in Switzerland last year.

Find out who else in the first line up announcement

Angie and Yvie ready to toast The Bachelor on Gogglebox

Angie and Yvie in a scene from the TV series Gogglebox.

ALL the regulars return in TV show about people watching TV.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m

Guess which Sunshine Coast suburb cracked the million dollar list?

This four-bedroom home at 26 McAnally Dr, Sunshine Beach was for sale for $7 million.

List of Australia's five most-expensive suburbs

Does it get any better than this? Check out this $2M home

LUXURY LIVING: The Coral Cove home built by Steve Coates Constructions that took out the best home over $2 million and the Wide Bay Burnett House of the Year at the Master Builders Wide Bay Burnett Housing and Construction Awards.

Wide Bay's best home is right on our doorstep