Majority rejects new code

By KEN SAPWELL

TWEED Council's majority faction has again baulked at adopting a new code of conduct which includes developer donations as grounds for a conflict of interest.

The council last week voted 6-5 along factional lines to reject amendments requiring councillors to declare a conflict if they've received campaign donations from a particular applicant.

Greens councillor Henry James said the proposed changes would create a more transparent decision-making process and help remove any public perception that councillors were favouring developers who donated to their campaign.

The amendments also required the general manager to compile a list of developer donations and councillors who faced a potential conflict.

Cr James said his proposed amendments were in line with the code of conduct recommended by the council's general manager John Griffin but rejected two weeks ago by councillors whose election campaigns were bolstered by $340,000 in developer donations.

"But instead you chose a version of the code which is quite fuzzy and fails to make it clear that you have a conflict when you are recipient of a donation," he said.

Cr John Murray was the only majority councillor to speak out against the proposed amendments, saying the council had adopted the minimum standard required by the state government, with "a few enhancements".

Although other majority faction councillors declined to comment, it is understood they rejected the amendments because of fears they would prevent them from voting on a raft of future applications from developers.

Cr Dale said the code had been watered down by Cr Murray's amendments, leaving conflict of interest concerns unresolved.

"It allows them a quiet escape route when it comes to open and honest disclosure - they have purposely left themselves an unlocked back door to escape scrutiny," he said.

"Importantly is is these very matters which are at the heart of community concerns following recent big budget election donations and which are a contributing factor in the government calling the Commission of Inquiry."



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