Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Councillor Fined For Misconduct

A Whitsunday Regional Councillor is required to make a public admission of guilt, pay a fine of $500, and attend training or counselling after engaging in “inappropriate conduct” relating to a Council employee.

Councillor Jan Clifford’s actions were scrutinised by an independent assessor over six months, with the findings presented for decision to Whitsunday Regional Councillors at last week’s Ordinary Council Meeting.

Three allegations of misconduct were brought to the table against Ms Clifford, the first two of which she was found guilty.

Councillor Clifford is required to publicly admit her guilt, be fined $500, and attend on-course training.

The initial, substantiated claim was that she had approached an unnamed employee and said words to the effect that “it appeared there was nepotism within the council with the appointment of Employee Y to Council position,” documents stated.

The second substantiated allegation stated that the Councillor attended a Council event last year, where the Councillor said to another attending employee about Employee Y, "I would rather speak to myself" and "I am still disgusted that [she] has got that position".

A third allegation was removed from discussions for being "school-kid stuff" had alleged Councillor Clifford ignored Employee Y at several previous Council meeting morning teas.

Under current policy, Local Government Mayors are held responsible for handling investigations and reprimand of Councillors.

Another Councillor Conduct Investigation against Councillor Mike Brunker was to be addressed at the meeting but was tabled due to Councillor Brunker being absent.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall said that hiring independent assessors was not a regular procedure in these matters yet was deemed the "right course of action" considering the timing of the allegations.

“When these were brought to my desk, I had been in the job for less than a week,” Mayor Hall said.

Before discussions, Councillor Clifford spoke to her case: “I said to someone that it did not pass the pub test [the hiring of Employee Y], in broad terms,” she said.

“Am I sorry I said that? Maybe, maybe not. Because it does not in my opinion pass the pub test and this is nothing personal against the employee. A lot of people in this town would have applied for [that position].”

Councillor Jan Clifford was fined $500 after findings substantiated her inappropriate conduct in treatment of a Council employee

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