THE Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) may be asked to investigate a phone message left by councillor Reg Kidd for Cr Jeff Whitton on the day of the mayoral vote last September despite Cr Whitton saying the issue had been dealt with at the time.
Cr Kidd admitted he had left a phone message for Cr Whitton, urging him to back Cr Russell Turner for mayor.
However he denied saying there could be implications for Cr Whitton’s business if he backed the wrong candidate in what was expected to be a close vote.
“I really can’t remember, I don’t keep recordings of my conversations but I thought I said there had been some changes on council and it could be worth giving Russell Turner a go,” Cr Kidd said.
“How in the hell could I influence something like that [Cr Whitton’s business]?”
Cr Whitton told the Central Western Daily he had informed general manager Garry Styles of the phone message early on the evening of September 20, and later gave him a copy.
“The general manager asked me if I wanted to take any action and I said no,” Cr Whitton said.
Cr Whitton did not reveal to the CWD the detail of the message nor that Cr Kidd was the caller.
“The GM did ask me to keep the message in case he had to take further action from a council perspective,” Cr Whitton said.
“I reported it on the day to the person who needed to know and from my position the matter has been dealt with.”
Cr Kidd said he apologised to Cr Whitton almost immediately, they had shaken hands and had had a cordial relationship in the five months since.
“I voted for Jeff for deputy mayor - that’s the end of the section,” Cr Kidd said.
It would be except that the matter has been discussed by several councillors in recent weeks and some believe a complaint has been lodged. If a formal complaint was lodged Mr Styles would be obliged to act on it.
Cr Kevin Duffy said he had mentioned the phone message to the general manager but had not lodged a code of conduct or other formal complaint.
Mayor John Davis said he was aware of the phone message but had not heard it.
“I believe the seriousness of it is worse than most people think because it is about the electoral system,” Cr Davis said.
Other councillors have told the CWD they have been aware for months of the message but were happy to leave it to Mr Styles to decide whether the matter was serious enough to warrant a formal investigation.
Crs Glenn Taylor and Neil Jones said there was little to be gained from a formal inquiry unless there was a threat of the most serious nature.
A veteran of many mayoral votes Cr Taylor said some people did get “emotional” as they lobbied for support for the mayor and the deputy mayor’s position.
“If it’s just overexuberant banter without much substance I think that’s unfortunate,” he said.
Mr Styles declined to say whether a formal investigation was under way.
“If I had received a complaint the protocols are that I don’t make public comment,” he said.