NO INQUIRY: Stuart George at in his office at Metgasco. Blainey Woodham
NO INQUIRY: Stuart George at in his office at Metgasco. Blainey Woodham

ICAC not to investigate Cr George

RICHMOND Valley and Rous Water councillor Stuart George will not be investigated by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption over allegations his employment by coal-seam gas company Metgasco conflicts with his council positions.

Cr George said yesterday that he was not contacted by ICAC in relation to the complaint but that he was "very relieved" the matter would not be investigated. He then went on the attack, accusing the anti-coal-seam gas activist who made the complaint of lacking "courage and decency" by submitting the complaint anonymously.

In a letter dated January 19, a copy of which was obtained by The Northern Star, ICAC detailed the complaint and referred it back to Richmond Valley Council and Rous Water.

"An anonymous woman alleged that Cr Stuart George ... has a conflict of interest because he also works for Metgasco," the letter read.

"She asserted that to be successful Metgasco will require approval by both Richmond Valley and Rous.

"She argued that Cr George has a conflict of interest stemming from his employment and that this, of itself, amounts to corrupt conduct.

"The Commission will not be investigating the matter.

"We have determined, however, that it may be of interest to (council, and) you may take whatever action is deemed appropriate."

But while the letter detailed that the complaint would not be investigated it did not explain why.

A spokeswoman said ICAC did not comment on investigations or information it receives and refused to provide further detail.

Cr George said he abided by the Rous Water and Richmond Valley Council codes of conduct and did not participate in discussions regarding coal-seam gas.

"Our code of conduct is strict, the rules are there in place and if you break them you deserve to be in trouble," he said. "I have adhered to those rules and I have a good understanding of what is required."

A spokesman for the Richmond Valley Group Against Gas said the group agreed with the complaint that Cr George's positions conflicted, but said the group was not aware of the origins of it.

"Until The Northern Star contacted us we were unaware of any complaint to ICAC about the conflict of interest," the spokesman said.

"However, we would like to know why ICAC has chosen not to take action at this stage."

Both Rous Water chairman Phil Silver and Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said they were confident Cr George was aware of his obligations.

Both also said it was now up to the complainant to contact the council and initiate a code of conduct complaint if the matter was to be considered further.