Lithgow council’s general manager Graeme Faulkner has released a statement saying that he has confirmed with Joseph Dalzell AM, the barrister who prepared a report on Cr Maree Statham’s conduct under the Office of Local Government’s Model Code, that Cr Statham was given an opportunity to respond to allegations of misconduct before the report was finalised.
“In the most recent Code of Conduct matter considered by Council on the 27 November 2017, the independent investigator has confirmed that the respondent was given the opportunity to deny the allegations and that opportunity was taken by way of both written reply and interview with the independent Investigator,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Council has no role in the investigation process. Council must accept the findings of the Independent Investigator and Council’s only role, if there is a finding that a breach has occurred, by the Independent Investigator, is to apply one or more of a prescribed list of penalties set down by the Office of Local Government in the Code of Conduct procedures.”
A staff member of council said the council had fulfilled Mr Dalzell’s recommendation that Cr Maree Statham’s conduct be publicized by publishing the investigator’s findings in council minutes.
Cr Maree Statham said on Wednesday, December 6, that an appeal against the report’s findings that she had breached two codes of conduct was “in process”.
Mr Faulkner also said an appeal was being progressed, and the matter had been referred for further adjudication.
A spokesperson of the Office of Local Government confirmed that a review of an independent investigator’s findings is available to councillors.
“In certain circumstances, under the procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW, councillors can request that the Office of Local Government (OLG) review matters considered under a council’s code of conduct.”
“It would not be appropriate for OLG to comment publicly on a matter considered under a council’s code of conduct, or any such review request.”