Integrity body consulted on lobbying
SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council has sought the advice of the Queensland Integrity Commission after accusations of undeclared lobbying were levelled at the chair of a local community group.
Chair of the Stanthorpe Community Reference Panel, Stephen Tancred, has strenuously refuted claims he's being paid to act as a lobbyist for an unidentified "growers' group”.
Mr Tancred has been vocally opposed to SDRC's decision to shelve plans for Emu Swamp Dam, suggesting his stance has ruffled feathers.
"If you are in fact acting as a lobbyist, can you advise whether you undertake that role in an honorary capacity or are being paid?” an email from SDRC chief executive officer David Keenan to Mr Tancred reads.
Mr Tancred hit back at the claims but concedes he has been paid for his professional services six times over the past two decades - by SDRC.
"If I'm lobbying, I'm lobbying on behalf of council,” he said.
"It's just silly.”
A statement from the council suggests there's been "no formal referral” to the Integrity Commission from the council.
But emails shared with Mr Tancred show ongoing discussion between Mr Keenan and Queensland Integrity Commissioner Dr Nikola Stepanov.
"It's disappointing that council time and resources continue to be wasted,” Mr Tancred said.
"It could be that the council's CEO doesn't have the familiarity with Stanthorpe that others have. This is a community with many sporting, cultural, community and business organisations that work hard to improve the town and its economy.
"I recognise that it is very important for councils to know if anyone is being paid to talk to them, but in this instance it is not the case.”