Local, Opinion/Comment

Mayor declared pecuniary interest in CBD unit in 2013

On 5 March 2013 in a 25 minute radio interview with Jack Traynor Coffs Harbour Mayor Knight discussed why she left a Council meeting that was discussing and voting on proposals for Brelsford Park.

A picture from the vaults of Brelsford Park’s old gates which no longer exist.

The Mayor explained she left the meeting because she had declared a pecuniary interest due to the fact she owned a unit in the CBD.

That 25 minute interview can be heard here.

There is no argument that what Mayor Knight did in this instance was right.  Then Councillor Bob Palmer also excluded himself from the same vote for very similar reasons too.

It is just that what is and what isn’t a pecuniary interest, especially in relation to the CBD, seems to be an issue of much debate.  Particularly after the recent 4/4 tied votes on the proposed Cultural Centre and new Council Chambers. 

Indeed some in the community are saying the issue of what is and what isn’t a pecuniary interest seems to have become ‘a moveable feast’ at council meetings recently.

The Coffs Coast Outlook is aware of numerous formal complaints sent to the Minister of Local Government, Shelly Hancock,  since last Thursday’s   8 August council meeting where Mayor Knight controversially used her casting vote to vote for the proposed building in Gordon Street. 

One of those letters to the Minister states that a reason for the formal request for a Section 430 Investigation into Council’s handling of the votes around Gordon Street is because of;

“Concern that one of the elected representatives may have breached the Council’s Code of Conduct in not disclosing a pecuniary conflict of interest in the Council’s decisions for approving and undertaking the continuation of the Project.”

Another letter which was sent to all Councillors and the Minister by email from a ratepayer on 7 August asks if the General Manager has referred the complaints against a Councillor to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), as required under S.11 of the ICAC Act and in accord with Section 5.20 of the 2018 Model Code of for Local Councils in NSW.

The ICAC reference refers to the General Manager being present at the Council meeting on 25 July last when an elected representative  admitted to holding discussions with a potential purchaser for the publicly owned asset known as Rigby House.

The model code reference pertains to perceived conflicts of interest issues.

Why is this important?

This is important because in many people’s minds there is a question about why something that seemed ‘cut and dry’ in March 2013 seems to have changed by August 2019 and that transparency seems to have been lost. 

The question for many is what has made the mayor change when it comes to what is and what isn’t a pecuniary interest?




6 Comments

  1. All very disturbing. The Minister needs to step in. Janne C Lindrum

  2. What is needed is a search of the Register of all Councillors Declared Pecuniary interests along with all declared donations for the last Council elections for all successful candidates. There are likely to be names of donors or companies who have CBD interests that could have bought decisions in their favour.
    The likelihood of corruption is very strong when money can buy favours as has been seen in recent years in ICAC cases involving NSW local government and political parties.
    We should stop and think about the coincidence that Port Central is owned by the same company that owns Coffs Central, and has so many similarities to the Gordon Street project. ie Glass House – attached to the car park and Port Central
    Now compare Coffs Harbour’s planned Cultural & Civic Space (Council’s office block), with a car park attached, (recently improved by Council) connected to Coffs Central. Possibly then connected to the CEX club by a pedestrian bridge at later date, to a CEX owned and operated entertainment centre.
    The result would be that we have a CBD dominated by two massive entities creating a huge impact on the entire Coffs Harbour City Council’s decision making and finances for the entire Coffs Harbour local government area
    All this is very convenient, with Council having such a cosy relationship with Gowing Brothers, Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce and the CEX is a well known and established fact.
    Do we need to say more ?

  3. WOW….I wonder if Mayor Knight still owns her small unit in the CBD ???? This is another piece of EVIDENCE to how this Council works. Double standards to what just happened with Cr Michael Aidenorff being allowed to vote owning 3 CBD properties.

    I listened too the following 25 min interview with Nan Cowling which has more evidence of what goes on with Council.
    Nan also exposes the Bias of how the ex Editor Graeme Singleton of the Advocate treated her and showed favouritism to Mayor Knight & CoffCouncil.
    It’s so refreshing that we Have The Coffs Coast Outlook reporting with facts and evidence and reporting Truth.
    Thankyou once again for your excellent journalism. Just Brilliant! More people are now discovering Coffs Coast Outlook & choosing to read it than the Newscorp owned Coffs Advocate that has shown bias and is subscription based.

    Kind Regards Max

  4. The radio interview with former Councillor Nan Cowling on 7 March 2013 and mentioned by Max Smart above can be heard here;

    https://m.soundcloud.com/jackt-radio/07-03-2013-cr-nan-cowling?in=jackt-radio/sets/brelsford-park-saga

  5. Underpinning my support of the Rescission Motion was the premise that it is not up to the ratepayers & residents to inject their hard-earned money into a project that will only benefit existing CBD landowners. It is up to the CBD landowners to use their entrepreneurial thinking to develop their interests; e.g. the C.Ex Club has major plans afoot. Gowings and C.Ex + the increase in height will drive the CBD.(Rob Trezise makes a good point re: Port Macquarie). However, the Council could give the CBD a “HEART” by using the site in Gordon Street to establish a food bowl and accomodation for the homeless. A GIANT HEART could sit at the gateway to let all comers know that the people of Coffs Harbour spend their money wisely. Instead of building a citadel, instead of selling off the farm, they redevelop their existing chambers, retain their assets, accomodate their brothers and sisters in distress currently sleeping on the ground behind the Coles supermarket and provide them with an opportunity to win back their personal dignity and they take advantage of the Government Grants available to enter into a public/private partnership to develop CITY HILL; a project that would give the City a soul; an ICONIC presence at the Gateway; a POINT OF DIFFERENCE; which would create employment and generate income rather than shackle a relatively tiny populous (76,000 people) with crippling debt. Janne C Lindrum

  6. Bla bla bla. All the conspiracy theories by this Rob bloke and J Lindrum who doesn’t seem to be a Dr anymore?
    Both your comments are alway s good for a laugh. Thanks for the comedy colum coffs outlook.

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