Cr Carolyn Byrne.
Cr Carolyn Byrne. John Gass

Councillor Byrne quizzed over code of conduct breach

TWEED Shire Councillor Carolyn Byrne is being investigated for breaching the council's code of conduct, after she publicly divulged what happened in the confidential meeting at which ex-general manager David Keenan was sacked.

The Division of Local Government (DLG) has refused to reveal who lodged the complaint, but it has appointed independent investigators to pursue it.

Cr Byrne's account of the March 21 and April 30, 2013, meetings was contained in an October affidavit provided to Tweed Accountability Inc (TAI), a residents' group which campaigned against Mr Keenan's sacking.

In it, Cr Byrne expressed her alarm at the mayor's refusal to give reasons as to why he wanted Mr Keenan dismissed.

Extracts from this document were also published by the Daily News.

It is understood that Cr Byrne, a lawyer and law lecturer, registered as a whistle-blower with the Independent Commission Against Corruption prior to releasing the affidavit.

But despite this, the DLG has begun an investigation, claiming the Whistleblower's Act only protects Cr Byrne if she goes directly to the media.

Cr Byrne declined to comment this week.

Code of conduct breaches against councillors can attract fines, as well as a suspension from council.

After he was directed to by the DLG, Mayor Barry Longland on April 30 called a confidential meeting with councillors to elaborate on his reasons for wanting Mr Keenan dismissed.

Ironically, one of the reasons he gave was that the DLG had complained that under Mr Keenan's management there had been far too much use of code of conduct complaints, according to Cr Byrne's affidavit.

A DLG spokeswoman said they were not permitted to publicly comment on any complaints made under code of conduct guidelines.


Former Tweed mayor criticises councillor for not going through official channels

FORMER Tweed mayor Max Boyd has criticised Cr Carolyn Byrne for not going through official channels to register her concerns about the meeting in which ex-GM David Keenan was sacked.

Mr Boyd said any councillor who divulged what was said in confidential sessions "has erred very badly".
He said she should have reported her concerns to the DLG and ICAC.

Cr Warren Polglase also signed a less detailed affidavit, which supported Cr Byrne's account of events at the meeting.

Cr Polglase said it was a "frivolous" code of conduct complaint and the council had lost focus.

"We're elected to deliver outcomes for the community and here we are squaring off against each other."

Former mayor Max Boyd.
Former mayor Max Boyd.

He said the "unprofessional" way in which Mr Keenan's sacking was handled meant it was always going to come back to haunt the council.

Colin Brooks, president of Tweed Accountability Inc., slammed the complaint as petty and vindictive.

"It's obviously a get square because of the sworn affidavit which she (Cr Byrne) was told she was entitled to make and would be protected," Mr Brooks said.

"She's done the community a great service in bringing this to the community's attention ... because the whole thing all along has been a massive cover-up."

He said Mr Keenan's dismissal was one of the most divisive acts in the shire's history, from which the community may never fully heal.

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