Councillor Katie Milne.
Councillor Katie Milne. Tweed Daily News

Milne, Youngblutt in trouble

TWO Tweed shire councillors are again in trouble for allegedly breaking their own rules on behaviour, with one facing disciplinary action at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Greens Party councillor Katie Milne faces formal censure for receiving money sent through her council post office box to help with the court costs of her failed legal bid to stop last year’s Repco Australia Rally and not disclosing the gift.

Deputy Mayor Phil Youngblutt, who last year infamously called many voters “morons”, has found himself in strife again after suggesting Cr Milne “go outside and have a cry”.

But he has escaped punishment because the alleged comment was part of a “private conversation”.

Two veteran council watchers – Barbara Fitzgibbon from Kingscliff and Jerry Cornford, spokesperson for the watchdog and lobby group Tweed Monitor – lodged the latest complaints.

Ms Fitzgibbon likened Cr Milne’s conduct to political donations condemned by the Daly Inquiry which led to the sacking of the council in 2005. Three members of the conduct review committee who investigated the complaint have recommended Cr Milne be censured for breaching the conduct code.

Cr Milne told the committee she had forwarded a donation to the No Rally Group. However council rules say any gift or benefit that cannot be refused or returned should be disclosed and “must be surrendered to the council”.

The committee found “Cr Milne did not return the money to the donor, nor did she disclose it”.

In contrast Cr Youngblutt faces no censure.

Mr Cornford complained that during the November council meeting Cr Youngblutt said to Cr Milne: “Why don’t you go outside and have a cry”, breaching rules which require councillors to treat other with respect at all times.

Complaint reviewer John Hawkins spoke to Cr Youngblutt, Dot Holdom and Kevin Skinner, concluding the three “were engaged in a private conversation” and Cr Milne had interrupted Cr Youngblutt who “responded in the manner complained of”.

He found the code of conduct “does not apply to the content of private conversations”.

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