Queensland Government

7 February 2020

The Whitsunday Deputy Mayor John Collins has been cleared of one allegation of misconduct but a second allegation that he disclosed confidential council information on Facebook Messenger has been sustained.

The Queensland Councillor Conduct Tribunal found Cr Collins divulged confidential discussions which took place at a council workshop, convened on 1 May 2019 to discuss the merits of the candidates for a vacant Division 4 councillor position.

At an ordinary council meeting later that day, the formal vote and resolution of council on the selection of a replacement councillor took place and was recorded in the minutes.

That evening, the deputy mayor relayed to an unsuccessful candidate via Facebook Messenger the discussions from the confidential workshop, which appeared to be at odds with the subsequent and formally recorded vote at the council meeting.

The Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) submitted the disclosure of the confidential discussion unfairly contributed to an adverse view of the fairness of the process to appoint a new divisional councillor, which resulted in the OIA receiving 20 complaints.

The tribunal noted Cr Collins’ actions had undermined public trust in the integrity of the Whitsunday Regional Council’s processes, but it did not consider the information relayed was incorrect or misleading and so cleared the deputy mayor of a second misconduct allegation.

It also noted that the unsuccessful candidate appeared to have already received the same confidential information from another unidentified source. 

The tribunal took into account that the second-term councillor had no previous disciplinary history, had apologised for his conduct and offered early and full co-operation to the OIA. 

It ordered Cr Collins to publicly admit to his misconduct at an ordinary council meeting and attend either training or counselling to address his conduct at his own expense. The deputy mayor was also fined $300.

Councillor Conduct Tribunal decisions can be found here.

*Please note Cr Collins consented to his name being published in the tribunal decision summary in relation to the unsustained allegation.

ENDS

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