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Codebreakers as possible conflicts go undeclared?

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Those waters of the Bendigo Creek are murky for councillors under the Greater Bendigo council code of conduct they signed soon after taking office.

You see, the contentious code clearly states: “A councillor would have a direct interest in a manner if there is a reasonable likelihood that the benefits, obligations, opportunities or circumstances of the councillor would be directed altered if the matter is decided in a particular way.”

It goes on to say: “A councillor who has a membership in a club or organisation would have a direct interest. The matter of indirect interest by close association is also important.”

So where does this leave elected councillors in their political interactions, receiving government favour and appointments and their failure to declare any real or perceived conflict when making ill-informed decisions on the dud GovHub project that has been rammed through council without proper or real consultation with owners of the Lyttleton Terrace municipal offices, the people of Bendigo.

There have been reports at least two councillors were out on the election day hustings swinging ALP how-to-vote cards into the hands of voters. It’s been well documented that another councillor is the partner of the federal Labor member.

Now, nothing wrong with councillors involving themselves in political parties. But when they seem to be joining the chorus line for the party that happens to form government and want to lumber Bendigo with a flawed and costly GovHub – and they don’t declare it in accordance with the Code of Conduct – there are some serious questions to be asked and answered.

Were some of these councillors just supporting “their team” when it was decided to sell prime CBD land, hand the cheque straight back to the government and then have our ratepayers forking out top dollar rent for decades?

The land and buildings will be sold for a mere $5.3 million – the land and buildings are easily worth $20 million. Any wonder we call GovHub a dud deal.

In the public interest, residents of Greater Bendigo need to be certain there was no real or apparent conflict of interest when the decision was made (and we repeat again, without consultation) back in February.

CEO Craig Niemann has been asked to investigate and explain the absence of declarations of conflict from many of those currently sitting around the council table.

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