Mayor sorry for rail misconduct
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio has apologised for his misconduct.
The Mayor was fined nearly $15,000 by the Local Government Regional Conduct Review Panel after he engaged in misconduct in his dealings with the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway project.
Cr Antonio owns a gravel quarry on the route chosen by the Federal Government, and stood to benefit from the inland rail project.
Cr Antonio personally paid $4,900 to have experts lay out an alternate route for the project, which would have taken the line to the very edge of his quarry.
He said he had the map drawn up to show that the line did not have to run through prime agricultural land. However, after questioning, he revealed he had provided the map to former industry minister Ian MacFarlane, who is now the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, and the Federal Member for Groom, John McVeigh.
Cr Antonio was ordered to undergo counselling, make an admission of error, and apologise at the next council meeting.
He apologised to his fellow councillors in a meeting this week, but said he was not just serving his own personal interests.
“My intention has always been to conduct myself with integrity and honour. I'm intensely proud of my role as Mayor and what this council has achieved during my tenure,” Cr Antonio said.
“To think these actions would have somehow called into question either my dedication to this region and its people, or the integrity of others on this council, sickens me.
“However, I accept the decisions of the panel, although deeply disappointed.”
After the apology, councillor Bill Cahill put forward a motion to have Cr Antonio suspended from any further dealings with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), but it was not seconded by any other councillors and was dismissed.
Cr Cahill later told reporters that the incident leaves him with a big question: “Is there anything else we don't know about?”
“It raises concerns about the amount of people involved. Who knew about this and chose to do nothing about it?” Cr Cahill said.