Aldermen face conflict allegations
Two Glenorchy aldermen are facing charges over alleged breaches of conflict of interest.
Tasmania's Director of Public Prosecutions has charged former Glenorchy City Council aldermen Jenny Branch-Allen and David Pearce with three charges each, all related to conflict of interest rules under Tasmania's Local Government Act.
The alleged offences reportedly relate to a council meeting in June, 2016.
The Board of Inquiry report tabled in State Parliament last year said that aldermen voted on whether to use ratepayers' money to cover legal expenses incurred by aldermen in a Supreme Court case launched by Ms Branch-Allen against the inquiry.
A motion at the meeting proposed not using ratepayers' money to cover legal costs of aldermen, and was defeated seven votes to three.
The report said Ms Branch-Allen, Mr Pearce, Christine Lucas, Stuart Slade and Steven King all voted against the proposal while directly participating in the Supreme Court case.
“Those aldermen who had incurred legal expenses could be perceived to have had a direct interest in ensuring that the possibility of payment of their legal fees by council was not removed,” the Board of Inquiry report stated.
“Accordingly, they should have declared that conflict of interest and removed themselves from the council chamber during debate and voting on the motion.”
Ms Branch Allen intends to fight the charges.
“I just wanted to do my best, I don't believe I've done anything wrong,” Ms Branch Allen told the ABC.
“[The charges] came out of the blue, but I'll be going to court refuting it.
“This is just again a very difficult situation for me. You give yourself to your community and it's been very tough.”
Breaches of the conflict of interest section of the Local Government Act carry fines that can reach thousands of dollars, and also allow alderman to be banned from nominating as a candidate at any election for up to seven years.
Ms Branch Allen and Mr Pearce are scheduled to appear in the Magistrate's Court on October 11.