Tate appeals misconduct claim
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate has rejected findings of misconduct and said any apology would be insincere.
Queensland’s Councillor Conduct Tribunal has found Mr Tate engaged in misconduct in 2015 when he directed former council chief executive Dale Dickson to cease disciplinary proceedings against another staff member.
In 2015, Mr Dickson gave notice to the mayor's then chief of staff Wayne Moran that he intended to take disciplinary action against him.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal says Mr Dickson then received letters from Tom Tate a month later “directing him to cease disciplinary action” against Mr Moran and “to provide evidence that the 'show cause' matter had been closed as he had directed earlier that week, by close of business on 14 December 2015”.
The tribunal found that this “interfered in the proper performance of the CEO's functions”. The disciplinary action was ceased by Mr Dickson later in 2015.
“By exercising his power to issue directions to the CEO in the way he did, evokes the popular phrase of 'sweeping things under the rug',” the Tribunal's decision stated.
“Such behaviour is entirely antithetical to the ethos, principles and purposes of the Act.”
Mr Tate was ordered to pay $2,757 in relation to the misconduct.
The council watchdog said “the misconduct was viewed so seriously that the tribunal considered whether it ought to recommend to the minister that [Mr Tate] be suspended as mayor”.
The watchdog also upheld a second allegation of misconduct dating back to December 2017, in which Mr Tate failed to declare a conflict of interest during a council meeting “where council was considering directions issued by [Mr Tate] and whether council ought to refer those directions to the Department of Local Government”.
The tribunal said it could refer his conduct to the Director General of the Department of Local Government.
“[Mr Tate] … had at least a personal interest in protecting his reputation, and the public perception of his character,” the tribunal found.
“That personal interest could, as perceived by a reasonable and informed observer, have the potential to influence the [Mr Tate's] decision in carrying out his official functions in voting on the recommendation.
“In effect, [Mr Tate] could have been influenced in protecting his personal interest (in his reputation) by seeking to take steps such that his reputation never came under scrutiny (by removing the recommendation from consideration by the CEO).”
The tribunal ordered Mr Tate to pay $689.25 in relation to the conflict of interest.
For the two matters, Mr Tate was ordered to make a public admission to the misconduct on his Facebook page and pay the penalties.
But Mr Tate has instead appealed the findings and applied for a stay through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“When it goes to a real court of law, you'd drive a bus through it,” he said.
“I don't think you'll find a decision in this term.”
One the day he was required to make the Facebook apology, Mr Tate said; “Council doesn't have an official Facebook for me, that Facebook is private”.
“It's hard for me to apologise when I don't agree with it, so how can you be sincere about it,” he said.