ICAC, MaKenzie & McCloy – Should Property Developers Be Mayors too?

 

Reaction – Examiner 20 August 2014: Call For ICAC Probe Into PSC & Mayor Bruce MacKenzie

Update 20 August: Correction to Mayors assertion in the Examiner:

 “ICAC have more to do than come to Port Stephens,” he said. “The TRRA are only whingeing because the wrong people got elected. They have run candidates in the last three elections and haven’t succeeded.”

TRRA Inc. made public statements at the four Election Forums that we held in the lead up to the 2012 Council Elections (that all Candidates were invited to attend), that we had a motion on our books from a General meeting, that TRRA Inc. as an organization would not be supporting any particular Groups or Candidates in the election.

This was very important because we wanted to provide a neutral public forum for all candidates, incumbent and potential, to introduce themselves and allow public scrutiny of their past and potential future performance. A couple of the Mayors ‘Team to Achieve’ attended the first forum at Soldiers Point attended by 200 ratepayers. The Mayor never attended any.  If he had fronted up to his constituents he would have known what our policy was. TRRA Inc. has never run candidates in any elections, ever.  More HERE and HERE

Posted 18 August 2014

Disgraced former Lord Mayor Of Newcastle, Jeff McCloy and current (?) Mayor Of Port Stephens Bruce Mackenzie having a cozy chat at Stella Cafe, Newcastle West.  No Bentleys or Brown paper bags are visible in these photos but we would like to have been a fly on the wall…….. What was the topic of discussion? Tell us your best guess in ‘Comments’ at the Bottom of the page. Be kind now!

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(These pictures are from Mackenzie’s Face Book, and were probably taken during the Local Government Elections in 2012)

Newcastle Herald 13 Aug: “Man Up And Don’t Back Down”: Bruce Mackenzie Urges Jeff McCloy to Stand firm At ICAC

When this article appeared in the Herald the other day It seemed like our illustrious Mayor was having a bit of memory lapse.

‘I’ve been investigated by ICAC. Some bloke turned up and flashed his silver badge, then they searched everything I own and it made headlines for weeks. And then when they found nothing, all it got was 100 words on page 59 of the Newcastle Herald.”

Seeing that you bought this up Mr Mayor, TRRA Inc. thought that we should do a ‘fact check’ and see if this really was just a “pimple on a pumpkin.” We think you should “man up” and tell the truth Bruce!

The Pecuniary Interest & Disciplinary Tribunal was established by The Local Government Act 1993.  The Tribunal’s principal function is to determine allegations of contraventions of the act,which requires that the pecuniary interests of Councillors, Council delegates, senior staff etc. be placed on public record. Councillors and designated persons are required to submit written returns for that purpose every financial year, and they have until September to lodge them.

Councillors, staff and other designated persons are required to make a disclosure and refrain from taking part in decisions on Councillor matters in which they have a pecuniary interest. If a contravention is proved to the Tribunal, the Tribunal may, in the case of Councillors, Council committee members and Council advisers; counsel, reprimand, suspend or disqualify from civic office and, in the case of Council employees, recommend disciplinary action or dismissal.

The legislation requires complaints of contraventions to be dealt with by the Director-General of the Department. The Director-General has powers to investigate a complaint and the Tribunal’s functions are initiated by a Report presented to the Tribunal when the investigation is completed. After considering the Report, the Tribunal may decide to conduct a hearing into the complaint, or it may decide, for reasons to be stated in writing, not to conduct a hearing.

March 1995: Councillor  Mackenzie had the dubious honor of being the first Councillor to be investigated and served with a notice to attend a hearing under the Act. He  ignored notices sent by registered mail, but was eventually served in person and attended a three day hearing in Raymond Terrace on 27,28,29 March 1995.  He refused legal representation and represented himself at the hearing.

A complainant had Alleged a contravention of Division 9A (Section 46B) Local Government Act, 1919 – failure to lodge declaration of interests returns for 1991 and 1992. The Director-General investigated the complaint by interviewing Councillor Mackenzie and relevant staff members. The interviews were taped.  Councillor Mackenzie declared that he had lodged the returns but when it was established that there were no returns in the register he set about accusing staff members of loosing the paperwork and even accused the General Manager, (Shire Clerk then) with whom he said he had major disagreements, of deliberately destroying and disposing of the documents to get him into trouble.

Councillor Mackenzie made some very silly statements about his attitude to the Act, compulsory paperwork in general and the irritation he expressed that his financial affairs and property transactions had been scrutinized, investigated and put on public view over some years which provided both a motive and a personal inclination against lodging these returns.  He must have forgotten what he said in the interviews on tape because he put totally inconsistent arguments at the hearing, resulting in a scathing summation by the Tribunal, remarking that he did not regard him as a reliable witness. He had no problem with the reliability of the staff witnesses, except that of the Councillors secretary who had given a strident defense of her boss (after some prior collusion) on tape but then fell apart under oath in the witness box.The ultimate cost was her job and her reputation.

The Tribunal Ordered that Councilor Mackenzie be suspended from civic office for two months to July 22 1995 The Councillor appealed the order because it cut across the election process and if allowed to stand would have resulted in a suspension of over 4 Years to the next election Cycle. The suspension was reduced by 9 days to prevent this happening. Reasons given for the suspension were:

  • Councillor Mackenzie’s (lack of) knowledge and understanding at, and following the time of his election to Council of his legal obligations as a Councillor with respect to pecuniary interest returns.
  • His lack of concern for the obligation to lodge returns within the prescribed times.
  • His disregard for criticism of or the threat or risk of repercussions for his conduct in the performance of his duties.
  • His expressions at the hearing of apology and contrition for past failures to comply with the requirements of the legislation.
  • His expressions at the hearing of changes in his attitude to his obligations and his statements of intention to comply in the future.

November 1996:The Councillor then chalked up another first, He was hauled before the tribunal a second time 15 months later on 26 November 1996 on a recommendation from the ICAC .

Councillor Bruce Mackenzie, being a Councillor who had a pecuniary interest in matters with which the Council was concerned and being present at meetings of the Council at which the matters were being considered:

  • · failed to disclose the pecuniary interest to the meetings;
  • · took part in the consideration and discussion of the matters; and
  • · voted on questions relating to the matters

contrary to the provisions of section 451 of the Act.

This occurred over a number of different Council meetings between September 1993 and October 1994 at which he moved motions, rescission motions and amendments about his own development. The Councillor was represented by a lawyer this time and pleaded guilty to all charges. The Tribunal still took a dim view of this and suspended him from holding public office for a further two months from 26 November 1996 to 26 January 1997.

TRRA Inc. thinks that having this sort of stuff on your record is a bit more than a ‘pimple on a pumpkin.’ We wonder if he has ever really learned any lessons. His attitude to the law and accountability to constituents is is about the same as his mate McCloy’s. (He was prepared to go to the High Court rather than resign.) He clearly broke the current law, TRRA just does not think that developers and Public Office are a good mix, and that is being borne out in the evidence emerging every day from ICAC.  Lets hope that this is followed through with prosecutions, damaged reputations are not enough.  We also hope the electorate has learned their lessons about this unholy conflict of interest. All that crying about stagnation in Newcastle, well we put the pro development “adults” in charge and look what happened!

For those Tragics that want to salivate over the detail, the transcripts of the Hearings are available below by clicking on the links.  The first one went to 99 pages, with the Tribunal trying to grapple with an unrepresented renegade who tried to treat the hearing with contempt for a start, then turned the blame onto everybody else when he realized how much trouble he was really in. The second affair was a bit more civilized with legal representation and a guilty plea.  The first can be very entertaining in a Machiavellian way with plenty of ‘Bruceisims’ quoted, but it certainly shows the sort of stuff that is still going on in Local Government politics today. Enjoy, or be horrified the read.

LG Pecuniary Interest Tribunal – MacKenzie 1995

LG Pecuniary Interest Tribunal – MacKenzie – 1996

We were a bit reluctant to put this next link in because we think Bruce gets off on this stuff, and it appeals to the “Can Do” brigade that want some sort of a”Lovable Larrikin” running things, even if it is only for himself. But this does fill in some of the gaps and reveal a bit more about the controversial Mr Mackenzie. Reflect on it and let us know what you think in the comment section below. Question: Should Property Developers Hold Public Office?

Newcastle Herald December 14 2012: Ballsy Bruce; The Controversial Mayor Of Port Stephens

This entry was posted in 2014, Council Elections, Council Financial, PORT STEPHENS COUNCIL, State Gov Submissions, State Gov. Responses, STATE GOVERNMENT, What The Papers Said! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ICAC, MaKenzie & McCloy – Should Property Developers Be Mayors too?

  1. Peter & Dianne says:

    We are writing in support of Kate Washington’s call for the Mayor of our beautiful Port Stephens to be investigated by ICAC.
    Now is the time to do some gardening and weed out corruption in the people we appoint to such high positions.
    “Pimple on pumpkins” or not…. lets get rid of the corruption!!

  2. Terry Wall says:

    MINISTERIAL CODE OF CONDUCT TOUGHENED

    The Code of Conduct for NSW Government Ministers will become an “applicable Code” for the Independent Commission Against Corruption under changes announced this week by Premier Mike Baird.

    The changes mean a Minister could potentially be found to be corrupt by ICAC on the basis of a substantial breach of the code.

    New provisions in the Code will prohibit Ministers from pressuring civil servants into changing their recommendations – a reform Mr Baird said would strengthen the provision of “frank and fearless” advice in NSW.

    The changes come into force next month, implementing recommendations from a 2013 ICAC report.

  3. Nigel Waters says:

    Well done – TRRA is performing a valuable public service by reminding us of relevant history – all on the public record. Anyone concerned about these issues should attend a community meeting this Thursday, 21 August – STOP THE ROT – SHINE THE LIGHT organised by the Hunter Region Concerned Citizens Forum from 7pm-8.15 pm at Newcastle Town Hall King St Newcastle. The meeting will launch a community action plan to clean up politics in the Hunter region.

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