Lockyer Valley councillors fierce row over authorisations

Mayor Steve Jones has said he will respond to Cr Jim McDonald's question on notice by December 17.
Mayor Steve Jones has said he will respond to Cr Jim McDonald's question on notice by December 17. Amy Lyne

LOCKYER Valley councillors had a fiery exchange in this morning's council meeting over what authorisations they have to meet state and federal politicians.

The row started when the meeting took a question on notice from Cr Jim McDonald asking what authority the Mayor relied on to require councillors to attend events when invited by MPs.

Cr McDonald's question comes after he and fellow councillor Kathy McLean attended a Laidley Better Business breakfast recently at the invite of Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss where local government minister David Crisafulli also attended.

The two councillors attended the meeting in the capacity of citizens and not as councillors so they say it was within their right to attend.

Cr McDonald also recently attended a meeting of Gatton business owners unhappy at rate rises, but again he appeared in the capacity of a private citizen and not as a councillor.

In an email published in the council agenda papers Mayor Steve Jones reminded councillors their code of conduct required them not to communicate or to attend events at the invitation of state and federal members unless authorised by the Mayor.

"Councillors must also record details of any meetings or events attended in Council's corporate calendar… in advance of that attendance," Cr Jones said in his email.

Mayor Jones took Cr McDonald's question on notice and said he would respond in writing to Cr McDonald by December 17.

Cr Derek Pingel said he thought the rules were clear and he always advised the Mayor and CEO in advance of meetings he had with politicians.

Cr McDonald said he always let the CEO know in advance of any meetings he held with politicians in his capacity of councillor but said the Mayor had no right to insist on granting permission.

"That's just completely unconstitutional and outside the rights of every Australian to meet with their state or federal member," Cr McDonald said.

"I am more than happy to advise but I am not going to seek permission."

Mayor Jones said he didn't want to debate the point until the next meeting and accused Cr McDonald of being "clever" and "grandstanding in front of the media".

He called for a vote which passed 5-2 (with Crs McLean and McDonald voting against) to respond on December 17.

Cr Peter Friend then asked for council to seek help from the Department of Local Government assist council on the matter.

 "It would be good to sit down and iron some of these things out, the people of the Lockyer deserve that" Cr Friend said.

Cr Friend's motion was passed 6-1 with Cr Derek Pingel the only vote against.

Topics:  lockyer valley lockyer valley regional council

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