Stuart George
Stuart George

George says he won't stand down

STUART GEORGE will not be standing down from his roles on the Richmond Valley Council (RVC) or Rous Water, despite calls for him to do so.

Mr George, son of Lismore MP Thomas George, commenced work at Metgasco this month as a land administration officer, a role which sees him liaise with landowners for the purpose of gaining access to their land for CSG mining.

Groups opposed to CSG mining have called for Cr George to stand down from his civic responsibilities because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Founder of the Casino Group Against Gas, Dean Draper said Cr George should go because his role at Metgasco put him in conflict with his constituents who were increasingly concerned about the industry.

Other Northern Rivers groups against CSG mining have backed Mr Draper's call.

However, in a statement released to The Northern Star yesterday Cr George said he would not be standing down.

"I will not be resigning from my positions as Richmond Valley councillor as I was elected by the Richmond Valley Council community and I will be carrying out my duties for the full term," the statement read.

Mr George said if there was a mater which came before the council in relation to Metgasco he would declare a conflict of interest and deal with the matter as he was required to do so.

He said he would respond in the same way on Rous Water.

Rous Water is the regional water supply authority. Its chairman Phillip Silver said just because Mr George worked for an organisation some people were opposed to it did not disqualify him from holding a position on the council.

Mr Silver said there were processes in place to deal with situations where councillors held a conflict of interest.

The current Model Code of Conduct for NSW Local Councils prescribes standards of conduct in relation to conflicts of interest.

Under the Local Government Act there are two types of private interests: pecuniary and non-pecuniary.

The Act defines a pecuniary interest as one in which there is a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person.

Non-pecuniary interests are personal interests where there is no financial gain.

RVC mayor Col Sullivan backed Cr George's stand saying there would be no problem with his new role providing he declared an interest when required to do so.

Cr Sullivan also said issues relating to Metgasco rarely came before the council as they operated under the State's jurisdiction.

Councillors themselves are responsible for identifying a conflict of interest.

If members of the public are concerned a councillor may have breached the code of conduct they can write to the general manager requesting the matter be investigated.