TWO Swan Hill Rural City Councillors don’t believe they will be shut out from voting on one of the matters they have pledged to champion: the positioning of a new bridge over the Murray River at Swan Hill.
At this week’s meeting, a motion proposing to abandon the 9a bridge route was withdrawn by Cr Gary Norton, who said with one councillor absent from the meeting, he intended to bring the item back at the next meeting in February.
Councillor Jessie Kiley said she may have a conflict of interest and was seeking further legal advice. Cr Jim Crowe said he was in the same position.
Cr Kiley said herself and her father, fellow Councillor Jim Crowe, were merely covering their bases.
“My father and I don’t believe we do and we want to be satisfied that is the case, for community confidence,” she said.
Ms Kiley said she would continue to act towards what she believed to be the majority of ratepayers’ view — in oppostion to the 9a bridge option.
“It is my duty to represent the views of the majorty.”
The question of conflict of interest is related to the ‘Winki Pop’ Supreme Court decision in 2007, which resulted in greater scrutiny on councillors and candidates who might have expressed a predetermined position on matters yet to be voted on by their council.
In 2007, a company named Winki Pop successfully challenged a planning decision by Hobson’s Bay Council after a councillor, when still a candidate, had made a formal submission against a proposed development in the area.
The Supreme Court ruled the council had a bias in allowing that councillor to be part of the decision-making process.
In Swan Hill’s recent council elections, candidates Kiley, Crowe, Lawrence Moser and Bill Moar appeared in an advertisement headed ‘How to vote against 9a — and for our township’s future (supporting the view of BPAC)’.
For more on this story, see Monday’s edition of The Guardian (17/12/12).
AWAITING DECISION: Cr Gary Norton said he intended to bring the proposal, to drop the 9a option, back to council at the next council meeting in February.
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