It was revealed in the Tweed Shire Council meeting last week the mayor had been threatened for raising concerns over claims for councillor expenses which would see her delegation for approval of expenses removed.
In a pay back, the mayor had this delegation removed last week in a surprise amendment presented by Cr Longland to the payment of expenses policy supported by his three cohorts.
Following the mayor raising concerns of claimed expenses it was considered significant enough to reconsider the practices of the existing policy and seek advice from the Office of Local Government who also raised subsequent issues with the application of parts of the policy.
To ensure a thorough review of the policy was undertaken, an independent firm was engaged and included their facilitating a workshop with councillors in December.
Advice of the Office of Local Government and independent review resulted in a revised payment of expenses policy and amendments agreed to by councillors at the workshop, this presented to councillors in their business papers for last week’s meeting.
It was clearly evident at this meeting the mayor and deputy mayor had not been privy to the significant number of further changes to the revised policy until it was tabled on the night by Cr Longland but it did not matter as he had the numbers.
While guidelines are in place for such policies to be developed it is the role of each organisation to put practices in place that enhance public confidence, accountability and transparency, particularly when we see such outrageous rorting of the system in government.
The mayor is to be commended on her due diligence, conscience and consideration of proper accountability, however it is now unfortunate those qualities have been removed from the process simply for speaking up.
Lindy Smith, Tweed Heads