Council may go public on expenses
THE public release of just how much each Tweed Shire councillor claims on expenses looks almost certain after Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase yesterday threw his support behind a move to drop secrecy surrounding the spending.
But he blamed the former council administrators for changing the system and abolishing the publication of councillors’ expenses, which existed under the previous elected council.
Greens Party councillor Katie Milne has announced she will move at the council meeting next week for the public release of a councillor-by-councillor breakdown of expenses.
Councillors Dot Holdom, Joan van Lieshout and Barry Longland have all said they have no problems with their expense claims being made public.
“I have no problem with that,” Cr Polglase added yesterday.
He said the secrecy provisions were brought in under the administrators, possibly in a move to hide any costs claimed by the executive officer appointed to assist them.
Mr Polglase said while the officer’s “$160,000-plus” salary was paid for by the state government, any other costs could have proved embarrassing.
When councillors were previously elected he said the information about expenses was always available.
“There was never any drama,” he added.
The secrecy surrounding expenses claims came to light after Cr Kevin Skinner said the costs, particularly those relating to trips away for conferences, were “exorbitant”.
But council staff declined to release a councillor-by councillor breakdown of the claims which were previously published in the council’s annual report.
Cr Polglase said he wanted to make it clear however that he supported councillors attending conferences.
“I’ve always encouraged councillors to go to conferences and seminars,” he said.
“It does broaden their knowledge.
“If you just stopped in the Tweed you wouldn’t become aware of what’s happening in local government elsewhere.”