Councillor’s future at risk


Councillor’s future at risk

THE embattled South Gippsland Shire Council faces the prospect of losing yet another councillor.
Cr Andrew McEwen will face court in relation to the distribution of a council document to a resident, John Zakula of Tarwin Lower.
At the time, Mr Zakula and other Tarwin Lower residents were engaged in a legal dispute with council in the Supreme Court over its investigation into the residents’ allegations of nuisance noise created by turbines at Bald Hills Wind Farm.
The Local Government Inspectorate last week charged Cr McEwen with one charge of misuse of position.
He is due to appear in Korumburra Magistrates’ Court on July 4, 2019.
If found guilty, Cr McEwen will be disqualified from holding the office of councillor for eight years.
“I will be vigorously defending the charge. As the matter is before the court, I will not make any further comments,” Cr McEwen said.
He has previously said he did not leak the information, nor know who did.
Mayor Cr Don Hill refused to comment given the legal status of the matter.
The inspectorate will allege that, in January 2018, Cr McEwen provided a Tarwin Lower resident with information.
That information was a copy of an email from then council chief executive officer Tim Tamlin to councillors. It was placed in Mr Zakula’s roadside mailbox.
That email concerned delays in council meeting a Supreme Court order to investigate noise complaints by the wind farm neighbours.
They believed council had taken inadequate action to investigate their complaints of nuisance noise, which they said was affecting their health.
“Under section 76D(1) of the Local Government Act 1989, it is an offence for a person holding the position of councillor to misuse their position by making improper use of information to gain or attempt to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for another person,” chief municipal inspector David Wolf said.
The maximum penalty for the offence, if proven, is 600 penalty units ($95,142 at the date of the offence) or imprisonment for five years or both.
The Star reported in May 2018 that Cr McEwen questioned the tactics of the inspectorate, which issued a media release after his home was searched by police in the dark at 6.30am.
He was in bed enjoying a coffee at the time. Police seized computer equipment and electronic storage devices from his Meeniyan home.
“It’s interesting to me that the document (email from Mr Tamlin) was not confidential – it was just a memo – and I did forward it on to my personal computer,” he told The Star in May 2018.

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Posted by on Jun 4 2019. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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