Councillor's expenses not public
PRESSURE is mounting on Tweed Shire Council to ditch secrecy surrounding how much individual councillors claim in expenses, following revelations that the once publicly available information has been hidden.
Cr Barry Longland is the latest todeclare he has “no problems” with revealing how much he claims on expenses, including those made during trips away to conferences.
The Tweed Daily News revealed last month that the councillor-by-councillor breakdown of expenses was being kept secret.
However the information was made public each year during previous councils, including the 1999-2004 elected council prior to the appointment of administrators in early 2005.
“I’ve got no problems with that at all,” said Cr Longland
“I’ve got no problems with my expenses. With other councillors, they may be higher or lower. There are always reasons for that.”
Cr Longland said he would support a move, foreshadowed by Greens councillor Katie Milne, to lift the secrecy surrounding the information at the next council meeting in just over a week.
He said he hoped any future reporting of the expenses would include councillors’ reasons for the amount claimed, including the number of conferences they had attended.
Figures published by the TweedDaily News in March 2004, and gained from the council annual reports from the previous four years, showed councillors at the time took widely different approaches in claiming reimbursement from the public purse.
Lynne Beck, who had been mayor for the first two years of the council, claimed $19,974 over the four-yearperiod, but Warren Polglase, who took over the mayoral position for the next two years, claimed just $5541.
Cr Wendy Marshall, who racked up $34,678 in expenses over the sameperiod, said at the time her expenses were due to long hours and heaps of travelling. Cr Max Boyd claimed $26,664.
The figures then made public also listed the number of council and committee meetings and other official events the councillors attended.
Cr Marshall attended by far the most committee meetings and Cr Beck the most overall events.
None of that information is being made public by the current council.
Last month Cr Dot Holdom vowed to end the mystery that surrounds councillors’ expenses by making her own claims public, but later discovered that would breach the council’s media policy banning the release of information that is not already public.
Cr Joan van Lieshout said the public had a right to know how much each councillor spent.