STRELOW’S RESIGNATION: Findings behind misconduct revealed
THE REASONS behind a tribunal's finding of misconduct against Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow's misconduct have come to light this morning.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal conducted a hearing on whether Cr Strelow engaged in misconduct when she failed to update her register of interests to include a hospitality benefit from Adani.
A decision was made on July 2, 2020, which determined between April 16 and 2017 and June 8 2019, the Mayor and Councillor of Rockhampton Regional Council, Margaret Strelow, engaged in misconduct.
The tribunal documents determined the misconduct involved a breach of trust and was not ethical and legal behaviour.
The tribunal document details the particulars of the misconduct.
In relation to the alleged offending period, Mrs Strelow was re-elected as Mayor on March 16, 2016.
On March 18, 2017, Cr Stelow was part of the trade mission to India and received hospitality from Adani in the form of a flight from Mumbai airport to Madurai airport, transport to and from a Kamuthi solar plant, a flight from Madurai airport to Chennai airport, dinner and transport to and from dinner.
According to the documents, the Tribunal found Cr Strelow did not inform the CEO of the interest, namely the hospitality received from Adani, via a form 2 within 30 days.
Mrs Strelow previously told The Morning Bulletin when she was subject of the investigation that she had filled out a separate form and the information about which form to use was misleading.
The tribunal documents go on to explain Cr Strelow signed and submitted the appropriate form 2 on August 18, 2017.
On June 8, 2018, Cr Strelow was informed her register of interest did not contain particulars that should be listed in the register, namely the hospitality received from Adani during the India trip in 2017.
On July 5, 2018, Cr Strelow provided a statutory declaration that her register of interests are a true record of fact.
On August 6, 2018, she signed and submitted a form 2 which stated she did not inform the CEO of the Adani hospitality interests, and again on September 11.
On May 7, 2019, Cr Strelow was notified her register of interest did not contain the Adani hospitality particulars.
On June 5, 2019, Cr Strelow provided another statutory declaration that her register of interests were a true record of fact.
The tribunal documents state Cr Strelow failed to comply with sections of the Local Government Regulation 2012, namely she did not inform the CEO of the particulars of the hospitality interest from Adani.
The misconduct meant her register of interest was inaccurate for the period from April 16, 2017 to August 30, 2019.
The tribunal documents state the parties did not agree on all facts of the matter and Cr Strelow disputed the allegation she had engaged in misconduct or a breach of trust.
Cr Strelow submitted that the hospitality benefit from Adani was not an interest that was required to be declared in her register of interest.
The tribunal documents state several other mayors from Central Queensland attended the India trip.
The documents state the tribunal accepted Cr Strelow was confused and misunderstood the regulations however "this not does not change the fact that the obligation imposed by section 17B of the act was not observed by the councillor and as a consequence the hospitality benefit from Adani in March 2017 was not declared in the register of interest".
The tribunal documents state this meant her public record was inaccurate for the period of April 16, 2017 and June 8, 2019.
It stated Cr Strelow was guilty of a breach of trust and the allegation of misconduct was sustained.
On November 4, 2020, the tribunal ordered that Cr Strelow make an apology at the next council meeting that she engaged in misconduct and was to update her register of interest to include the hospitality benefit received from Adani, and attend in-service training within 90 days about completing the paperwork.
The tribunal documents state Cr Strelow had no disciplinary history and had extensive experience as both a councillor and mayor.
As a result of this guilty misconduct findings, Mrs Strelow tendered her resignation at 5pm yesterday.
This was not required by the tribunal, however in her statement about her resignation, Mrs Strelow said she refuted the tribunal's finding and her refusal to agree was on the basis of "personal integrity".
Read her full statement in this story.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga told The Morning Bulletin Mrs Strelow could appeal the decision through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Mrs Strelow has been contacted for comment however has declined and asked for privacy at this time.
The resignation has caused chaos as recent legislation changes states election runner-up Chris Hooper would automatically become Rockhampton's new Mayor.
The Morning Bulletin called Mr Hooper and broke the news to him and he said he shocked and if offered the position would accept.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month promised that a re-elected Labor government would seek to roll back legislative changes and revert to filling spots through by-elections.
However, State Government has given no indication as to how quickly it will move to put the laws through parliament, though it is understood the matter would be determined by the next cabinet.