Thursday 14 February 2008

Mayor Borzi challenged on conflict of interest

CairnsBlog contributing writer Sid Walker, and candidate for the Tablelands Regional Council, Division 8, follows up onMareeba Mayor's conflict of interest.

On Monday February 11th I revealed that Mareeba Shire Mayor Borzi owns a block of land within the Myola Zone as defined by the new Myola Plan.

My reason for doing this was to expose the fact that the Mayor did not declare a conflict of interest over his ownership of this block at a crucial Special Meeting of Council on January 29th which considered and voted in favour of the controversial and unpopular new Myola Plan. I believe his failure to do so was in breach of the Local Government Act.

I tabled legal advice that "the subject matter and nature of (the) complaints would appear... to be within the jurisdiction and scope of the Crimes and Misconduct Commission."

Following public exposure of this ‘inconvenient truth’, one might have expected some signs of remorse in the Mayor’s response. An apology was appropriate, perhaps, as he claims it was an innocent mistake?

Instead, the Mayor’s written reply was shameless. Mr Borzi seems to be digging himself into an even deeper hole.

His statement does not deny that he had a declarable conflict of interest which he failed to disclose. He says “I did not consider (his block of land) to be in the Myola plan area, however today I learned otherwise that it is fact (sic) just inside”

Mr Borzi claims the new Myola plan decision actually disadvantages him, because “under the proposed new amendments it cannot be subdivided”. He continues “… while I am happy not to be able to subdivide the block under the proposed amendments, in the light of the allegations I may even consider a subdivision”.

I believe this indicates cynical disregard for due process and rational planning - and contempt for the environment and its defenders. First the Mayor claims his Myola block can’t now be subdivided; then he suggests he may subdivide it anyway, out of pique!

This abrasive statement provides further grounds for State Government intervention. I believe the Mayor is behaving like a team captain who thinks he's above the rules. It’s time for the Ministerial referee to remind him exactly who’s in charge.

According to the Council Register of Interests, Mayor Borzi and his wife have substantial property holdings in the Shire, including eight blocks in Kuranda which Mr Borzi has owned for (at least) the last eight years. He has been Mayor throughout that period.

Can the Mayor assure the Local Government Minister - and the local community - that at all previous Council meetings he remembered to declare an interest and absent himself from meetings and votes when so obligated?

If Mr Borzi can’t recall the exact location of his numerous blocks of land, title searches at the Department of Natural Resources in Cairns may help.

$12 per document is a small price to pay for valuable lost property.

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