Corruption claims against Gympie councillor dismissed

GYMPIE councillor Ian Petersen has been cleared of corruption allegations following an investigation by the Local Government Department.

The department found the two complaints against Cr Petersen lacked substance.

The original complaint, made last October, alleged he had wrongly seconded a council motion aimed at trying to rejuvenate Mary St.

The complaint alleged that, because Cr Petersen was chairman of the board of the Friendlies, he had a conflict of interest, and should not have voted on the September 17 motion.

Cr Petersen said the allegation was used against him during this year's mayoral election campaign. Cr Petersen lost the election by a narrow margin.

The second complaint, made on March 6, was from a member of the public who had gone back through council minutes to December 7, 2010.

"I got a call from a concerned landlord," Cr Petersen said.

"It was 5.30am and it was raining. I went down and he had storm water coming into his premises.

"I spoke to the director of engineering, who said he had a plan to alleviate the problem, but it would need a resolution of council.

"So I moved a motion to authorise the engineer to fix the storm water problem.

"There was no flooding in the Friendlies; just a couple of other shops.

"The crux of it is I am chairman of directors of the Friendlies, which has a premises nearby, but it was unaffected by the floods."

Cr Petersen said the complaint had been made to council CEO Bernard Smith, who referred it to the Crime and Corruption Commission which, in turn, passed it to the Department of Local Government.

"I find it strange that a member of the public would go back to 2010, to make a complaint now," Cr Petersen said.

"The department found the complaints were without substance."

He said during the recent election campaign he had heard public comments along the lines of "Don't vote for him; he's being investigated for corruption".

He said Mary St issues, particularly the council's Mary St project, had come up at a council meeting recently.

Cr Petersen told the meeting claims of a conflict of interest on his part were "a desperate attempt to sideline me from the process".

He said he told the meeting: "I don't believe I have a conflict of interest and will be participating fully in the debate".

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