FIRST he wanted to wire his own office for video and sound, now the Auburn mayor, Ned Attie, has surprised his colleagues by voting against his own motion.
Cr Attie wanted to vet the credit card activity of the general manager, John Burgess, on a monthly basis with quarterly reports to council, but then a fellow councillor added an amendment that the mayor should make the same disclosure.
In an about face, the mayor voted against the successful motion at the meeting, which was later stopped after a five-councillor walkout over pecuniary interests stripped it of its quorum.
On Thursday, Cr Attie said he was confused by the proceedings of Wednesday night’s meeting. The mayor, who has previously asked staff to investigate the possible installation of cameras and listening devices in the mayoral suite, said in hindsight he had cast his vote in error.
”Quite honestly it got so confusing with people firing things left, right and centre it just confused me,” Cr Attie said.
”It was really an error; I really should just have voted with everyone. I don’t have an issue, I’ve got nothing to hide.”
The deputy mayor, Salim Mehajer, and Liberal councillor Ronney Ouiek were also hiding nothing in the debate that sparked the councillor walkout.
Both declared pecuniary interests in another proposal to increase the floor space ratios and building heights in zonings covering the Auburn and Lidcombe town centres.
But neither left the chamber, citing council’s legal advice on new state government legislation that allows councillors to vote on planning changes where they personally stand to benefit, as long as they declare their direct interest up front.
The law changes were introduced in August to stop councils losing quorum when voting on proposals covering all or a ”significant” part of the council’s area, where councillors could be reasonably expected to hold an interest.
But councillors were split on how ”significant” matter before council actually was.
Cr Ouiek said their refusal to leave the room was ”all kosher” and criticised his fellow councillors who left in protest.
”We did nothing wrong according to the act, so what’s the problem?”
”If every time the shit hits the fan they’re going to walk out, they’re not fit to represent the community.”
But Cr Campbell said alternative legal advice supported his claim the proposed changes related to ”very limited areas” and the two councillors should have left the chambers.
”I said that if [council’s] legal advice is correct, then the state government has legalised corruption,” he said.
Cr Campbell led the walkout of councillors Hicham Zraika, Tony Oldfield, Semra Batik and Irene Simms after his move to force the two councillors to leave on ethical grounds also failed.
”I was unable to remain in the chamber to facilitate councillors voting to determine the extent of their own financial windfalls,” he said.
The planning proposal in question is due to return to an Auburn council meeting on Monday night. Cr Simms said the state government needed to meet a council delegation to discuss the legislation.
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