Reps with code of conduct findings could be excluded from merger

AS merged councils across the state start to take shape, an Orange councillor has warned some councillors’ prior records could catch up with them.

Councillor Jeff Whitton said he had been told administrators in two merged councils had used prior code of conduct findings to rule out affected councillors from having a role in the transition.

“At the end of the day, it’s not unfair,” he said.

“If a councillor has been found guilty, then the administrator is going to surround herself or himself with councillors that can get the job done for the community and get the amalgamated council prepared ready for the next election.”

If Orange merges with Cabonne and Blayney Shire councils, councillors Reg Kidd and Kevin Duffy would be affected if an administrator used the code of conduct criteria.

Cr Kidd was sanctioned last year and forced to publicly apologise for questioning information provided by corporate and commercial services director Kathy Woolley, while Cr Duffy confirmed he was censured in the last term of Cabonne Council when he supported parts of Cabonne to join Orange.

Cr Duffy believed it was more important for the administrator to choose councillors who supported the merger and only those engaged in corrupt conduct should be excluded.

“I’ve never seen anyone act corruptly in my time on council,” he said.

“I just want [the merger] to be a success.”

So far, mergers have involved an administrator appointing an advisory committee from the pool of the former entities’ councillors, however the committee roles have not carried any powers.

All 12 of Orange’s councillors submitted expressions of interest in April to be considered for the roles.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said committee membership was purely up to the administrator.

“The community representative committees are subject to the model code of conduct but it would be a matter for them, depending how many applicants they had to weigh up, which ones would be the better representatives for the local community,” she said.

The three councils are still awaiting a decision on Cabonne’s appeal against the merger with the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Cr Kidd could not be reached for comment.

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