I have been asked by many for comment on the report this week that Eurobodalla councillor Lindsay Brown was, according to leaked minutes, "found in breach of the Local Government NSW association’s code of conduct and that the board resolved to seek Councillor Brown’s resignation and to ask him to ‘make appropriate reimbursement effective 6th April, 2018" ABC South East revealed that they had obtained the confidential minutes of a recent meeting of the Local Government NSW board.
Since his resignation there has been a domino of repercussions that have resulted in Councillor Brown being removed from the Local Government Super board where he sat from 5 September 2017 to 10 April 2018 and from StateCover Mutual Limited where he has been since 2016. From the top I have to admit I do not have respect for Councillor Brown as a politician and councillor. I do not know Councillor Brown at any level other than in his capacity as a Councillor, Mayor and Politician and can only comment on Councillor Brown. I do understand and believe that he is a fine family man and a generous and dedicated community member. The following is about the politician and only the politician. As a politician I do not have respect for Councillor Brown. I find his disdain of presenters at Public Access deplorable. I consider, having watched him closely for many years that he is, as a politician, disingenuous, self centred, egotistical, opinionated, petulant and misogynistic. I do not have trust in his statements during Council meetings nor do I have faith in his self declared espoused knowledge. All too often I have seen him rise to defend Council where my expectation would be to see him rise to represent the community. He is a game player in the Game of Politics at a Local and State Level and even has visions of becoming a player in the Federal playpen. He knows the system and he appears to be there for all that it might provide. He is a Gamer. He is in the Game of Politics and he knows that if he plays by the rules he gets the rewards, of which there are many. But unfortunately for Councillor Brown the bigger players in the Game just kicked him in the ass. What do we know? In a statement to ABC South East, Councillor Brown said "This is a confidential matter between me and the LGNSW Board, which I will respect. I am dismayed that this confidential matter has been leaked from LGNSW and I trust it will be investigated. I have nothing further to say on the matter at present". However Councillor Brown did have something further. to say ... (as reported in the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner June 4th, 2018) Cr Brown told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner it was related to an administrative error in a travel claim “The issue that arose with LGNSW is a confidential matter and I for one will respect the confidentiality of the decisions of the Board,” he said. “However, the deliberate leaking of this confidential information to the media now means that I need to respond in some manner so that I can defend my reputation, which has been now seriously damaged, for what appears to be political reasons. “The issue at the centre of this matter relates to an inadvertent administrative oversight on my behalf which I have fully rectified. “This related to travel claims during a period where I had to document well over 150 different items.
“Unfortunately, as I was advised, in two of these LGNSW claims I made an error, which at the time of the claims was not picked up by either me or the body to which the claims were sent. I accepted accountability for my error, and offered my voluntary resignation for this, and other personal reasons. “I am seeking further advice regarding the deliberate leaking of this matter which is intended to cause me harm. I am also seeking further legal advice in regard to the processes that have been undertaken by the Board in this matter. I am therefore unable to provide any further information.” Why would someone on the LGNSW Board leak confidential information for political reasons? Money? When you are on the LGNSW Board you receive a payment - a big payment... for Councillor Brown being on the Board also saw him on the board of Local Government Super ... yet another pay packet. He was also on the Board of StateCover Mutual Limited that came with its own rewards. He is no longer on the board of these and that comes with an inevitable financial loss. And inevitably it will be to someone else's gain. Politics? Councillor Brown has runkled a few feathers in recent years by his handling of his Liberal Party membership. The party did not enjoy the fiasco around Councillor Brown's failure to state he was a member of the Liberal Party on forms signed under Oath. They didn't like the way he then handled the oversight in the press. It became a news item and caused local Liberal Party embarrassment that also bought in a police investigation that has, as yet, not been resolved. So is Councillor Brown a Liberal? This is an important question as the LGNSW Board bats for the Blue Team. On 1 March 2013 the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW merged to become one association, known as Local Government NSW, representing all councils in NSW. The Country and the City. While NSW country shires usually have independent councillors we are seeing more of the city Big Party model permeating in with councillors now wearing their team colours. In the case of Eurobodalla we have already had a succession of Greens with Kowel, Harding and now McGinlay. The others are mostly Liberals but are still in the closet about it and declare themselves independent. Elsewhere around the State councillors are a little more forthcoming and wear their team colours for all to see. For Councillor Brown the LGNSW is BLUE - Very BLUE and very Liberal with a reinforcement of Nationals. It is understood that they weren't impressed when Councillor Brown was re-elected onto the Board. He doesn't have their support. He isn't on their team. It isn't surprising then that someone within the ranks raised a Code of Conduct on him. And what for? In Councillor Brown's own words: “The issue at the centre of this matter relates to an inadvertent administrative oversight on my behalf which I have fully rectified. “This related to travel claims during a period where I had to document well over 150 different items. “Unfortunately, as I was advised, in two of these LGNSW claims I made an error, which at the time of the claims was not picked up by either me or the body to which the claims were sent. "I accepted accountability for my error, and offered my voluntary resignation for this, and other personal reasons. So Councillor Brown made an administrative error - but it must have been a biggy because most folks make errors at some point, admit it, offer a reasonable explanation, say sorry and move on. However according to leaked minutes he was found in breach of the Local Government NSW association’s code of conduct and that the board resolved to seek his resignation and to ask him to ‘make appropriate reimbursement. Codes of Conduct are usually raised by one board member over another. In this case we might assume that a LGNSW board member came to know of discrepancies "related to travel claims" and raised a Code of Conduct on Councillor Brown. Codes of Conduct investigations are carried out by independent assessors who are diligent in their investigations. The finding by this independent investigator was that he was he was "found in breach of the Local Government NSW association’s code of conduct". Such a breach that calls for a resignation can't have been trifling otherwise Councillor Brown would have appealed, familiar with the process from his own Eurobodalla Council experience. If it was only a small matter why did Councillor Brown tell the Bay Post "I accepted accountability for my error, and offered my voluntary resignation for this, and other personal reasons?" Generally if you make an innocent error and it is discovered you don't offer your voluntary resignation. To the LGNSW it was a big deal. They raised a Code of Conduct which found him in breach of the Local Government NSW association’s code of conduct and then resolved to seek Councillor Brown’s resignation and to ask him to ‘make appropriate reimbursement. That is a big deal To the LGNSW it was also a big enough deal to also result in Councillor Brown stepping down from the Local Government Super Board and the StateCover Mutual Limited, both of which no longer listing him as a director. So what do I think? I think that his new pals at the LGNSW pursued the legal avenues available to investigate an 'anomaly in bookkeeping" and found him guilty enabling them to get rid of him off the board and have him removed from the other associated boards for whatever purpose they believed in, from due process to political gain and all the foggy grey reasons that might be in between. So we now have Councillor Brown back in Eurobodalla chambers having to answer some awkward questions, the principle one being should he step down from being a Eurobodalla Councillor ? I am joined by many others asking the same question. I am also joined by many in wanting Council to openly advise exactly what organisations it is a member of, how much is paid annually in fees, how much time and money is sent in resources to attend meetings and conferences, what benefits Councillors receive in the way of gratuities from being elected to boards or panels and exactly what benefits are returned to the Eurobodalla community from being members of these organisations. It is understood that a behind closed doors meeting to discuss the above is scheduled in the coming weeks and it is hoped that the results of this will be openly reported. At a local level there are many who are calling for an audit of councillor credit cards for the current and previous period in light of the comment made by Council's spokesperson last week that stated: "In response to a question from ABC Southeast regarding any instances of reimbursement, Council advised that on 10 occasions during his four-year term as Mayor, Cr Brown reimbursed his Council credit card for private expenses at his own instigation and within an appropriate timeframe." Fresh questions are now also coming to the surface around the sale of the then-Mayor's car to Councillor Brown when he was defeated in the last election. The Audit Committee has been asked to investigate the protocols of that single-invitation purchase at market value to ensure it complies with Council's asset disposal policy. Should Councillor Brown stand down as a Eurobodalla Councillor? While on the LGNSW Board Councillor Brown represented Eurobodalla Shire Council. He had been nominated as a Eurobodalla councillor and most likely voted for by his councillor peers at the LGNSW Conference in September. In the role of Board of Directors of LGNSW Vice President Regional/Rural he would have been representing Rural and Regional Councils as well as his own Eurobodalla Council As a Eurobodalla Councillor on that Board was Councillor Brown carrying out a Eurobodalla Council function? Obviously.... for a start, if he was NOT a Eurobodalla Councillor he would not have been there representing Eurobodalla.
The Model Code of Conduct sets the minimum requirements of conduct for council officials in carrying out their functions. The Model Code is prescribed by regulation. The Model Code of Conduct has been developed to assist council officials to: • understand the standards of conduct that are expected of them • enable them to fulfil their statutory duty to act honestly and exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence (section 439) • act in a way that enhances public confidence in the integrity of local government 3.1 is quite clear: You must not conduct yourself in carrying out your functions in a manner that is likely to bring the council or holders of civic office into disrepute Specifically, you must not act in a way that: a) contravenes the Act, associated regulations, council’s relevant administrative requirements and policies b) is detrimental to the pursuit of the charter of a council c) is improper or unethical 3.2 You must act lawfully, honestly and exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence in carrying out your functions under the Act or any other Act.(section 439) 439 CONDUCT OF COUNCILLORS, STAFF, DELEGATES AND ADMINISTRATORS (1) Every councillor, member of staff of a council and delegate of a council must act honestly and exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence in carrying out his or her functions under this or any other Act.
Councillor Brown, while he often carries on like a pork chop and a bit of a know it all spiv is, at heart, just another Player in the Game of Politics that sees wannabees lining up for the rewards of ego, prestige, self aggrandisement and discovering what the trough might avail financially and in kind. In The Game of Politics if you find yourself on the winning team and nepotism is in your favour then the rewards are there for the taking - but cross the line, lose the support base, step outside the box and the consequences are swift and ugly. Is Councillor Brown guilty of any wrong doing in regards to his time on the LGNSW Board ? - we don't know and probably never will know. Has his now very public fall from grace brought the name of Eurobodalla Council into disrepute. Yes, but in all honesty the good name of Eurobodalla Council has been a tad tarnished of late by a spate of Codes of Conduct that have found their targets on all too many occasions. Should Councillor Brown resign? No, I don't think so. He, like many other Players to the Game, is expendable. He became a bunny in the headlights dazzled by his own self importance and was taken out by other far smarter Players with more to gain and indifferent to his loss. Councillor Brown might actually realise that he has been a goose on a whole range of Council related matters and, after admitting them to himself, might look at his role as a councillor from a fresh perspective, getting his hand off his device for a start and paying respect to those who present to Council during Public Forum. He might also like to stop being a petulant, know-it-all dick and learn to listen. He has achieved a lot for Eurobodalla and there is hope that he might just come good. Let's see. As for all the rest of them playing the Game ?