FILE PHOTO: Cr Geoff McDonald
FILE PHOTO: Cr Geoff McDonald Kevin Farmer

Toowoomba councillor found to have engaged in misconduct

A TOOWOOMBA councillor has been found to have engaged in misconduct by failing to declare a conflict of interest while voting on amendments to a council policy in 2018. 

In a statement released today, Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian said councillor Geoff McDonald of Toowoomba Regional Council had been found to have engaged in misconduct by failing to declare a conflict of interest while voting on amendments to the Toowoomba CBD Development Incentive Policy.

Cr McDonald is a part-owner of two properties in the Toowoomba CBD Development Incentive Policy area.

Cr McDonald had previously declared the conflict of interest on two occasions but failed to do so while considering extending the policy for a third time in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee in 2018.

The Office of the Independent Assessor accepted and submitted to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal that Cr McDonald's omission was inadvertent.

He demonstrated insight and awareness through a prompt apology to council and by removing himself from voting on the matter at a subsequent council meeting.

The potential for the councillor to obtain a benefit under the policy was subject to eligibility criteria and a further separate vote by council.

There was no evidence Cr McDonald sought to take advantage of the incentive policy.

With the consent of Cr McDonald, the complaint was fast tracked by the OIA to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal.

The Tribunal found the matter did raise a perceived conflict of interest and that the councillor, as a property owner, has the opportunity to apply for the incentive anytime within the extended period.

Cr McDonald was ordered to make a public admission of misconduct, but due to his swift action at the time to correct his conduct, the order was considered fulfilled and no further action was required.

Cr McDonald has been contacted for comment.