Narrabri Shire Council will be forced to hire an independent reviewer, after both its general manager and mayor received code of conduct complaints for the same incident.
The complaints arose following an email sent out to all council staff, asking them to vote in a poll about coal seam gas in Narrabri.
Questions have been raised about who directed the email to be sent to staff, which council has so far ignored.
The Leader understands two councillors made a complaint against general manager Stewart Todd, after seeking advice from the NSW Office of Local Government, who informed them they were obligated to make a complaint if they believed the code of conduct had been breached.
Narrabri Ratepayers Association also made a code of conduct complaint against mayor Catherine Redding.
Normally when a code of conduct complaint is made against the general manager, the mayor would handle the complaint, and vice versa.
However, given both complaints relate to the same issue, the matter will be referred to an external independent conduct reviewer.
Narrabri Shire Council refused to answer The Leader’s questions because of the confidential nature of the matter.
Office of Local Government documents indicate information that identifies the complainants is not to be disclosed, however, that “does not apply to code of conduct complaints made by councillors about other councillors or the general manager”.
The email in question was sent out to all council staff on February 9, implying employees should stack an online survey which asked “Do you want CSG in Narrabri?”
“It is evident that a lot of the protesters have been active sharing this poll within their circles,” the email stated.
“Please take a minute to take a look and participate to hopefully portray a more accurate result of what the community want.”
The email also included a link to the survey.
The Local Government Code of Conduct states: “You must not use your position to influence other council officials in the performance of their public or professional duties to obtain a private benefit for yourself or for somebody else.”
The Leader is not suggesting Mr Todd or Cr Redding have done anything wrong.
Both were contacted for a comment, but refused requests.