Division eight Logan City Councillor Jacob Heremaia was the final talking point on the agenda of the City Governance Committee meeting today, January 16, with councillors debating if he was guilty of inappropriate conduct.
The cost of the external investigation cost rate payers $28,345.58 which is funded through the Corporate Governance branch recurrent budget.
The alleged inappropriate conduct the subject of the complaint as set out by the OIA in its referral letter to Council is as follows (conduct):
(a) it is alleged that on 9 August 20239 (noting that due to an administrative oversight this should be a reference to 3 August 2023), the Subject Councillor made a post to his ‘Councillor Jacob Heremaia’ Facebook page seeking feedback from the community about a potential reduction in entry fees for Council operated pools. The post contained a link to a Cognito form allowing an individual to provide their feedback to the Subject Councillor;
(b) the Cognito form is not a platform that Council has endorsed for business use and there have not been any assessments by the Council as to its potential risks;
(c) the form requires certain personal information to be supplied, however, the construct of the form does not appear to comply with the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IPA) (in relation to a collection notice). It is also unclear how the information is to be stored, accessed, used and disposed of; and
(d) Cognito is based offshore and any information relating to council business, or the private information of users may be subject to risks.
The investigation by law firm Clayton Utz found that Cr Heremaia had engaged in the conduct alleged by the OIA and has contravened the requirement set out in the Code of Conduct to only use official electronic communication10 accounts when conducting Council business.
Following the written response from Cr Heremaia to the law firm and a debate in the committee meeting, most of his fellow councillors found Cr Heremaia not to have breached the code of conduct and that he was not using his Facebook page to conduct council business inappropriately.
While the discussion centred around what Cr Heremaia posted and why, most councillors also referred to the waste of money and time on the investigation.
“Firstly, to the rate payers of Logan who have tuned in for this, I am just dreadfully sorry for all of the red tape and expense that has been spent on this particular issue,” said Cr Koranski.
“We are talking about 28 grand but let’s be real, how much was spent at the office of the independent investigator doing their work on this particular thing. How much time was spent by officers within this building on this particular issue and have a look at how many of us are sitting in this room debating this for how long.
“The waste is horrendous, and I apologize to the rate payer for that. No value for money here.”
More than an hour was used to talk about this issue and to create a motion that could be voted on saying that council does not accept the conclusions and recommendations in the independent report.
This was voted on with the following results:
Mayor Darren Power – Not at meeting
Cr Lisa Bradley – For
Cr Teresa Land – Abstain
Cr Mindy Russell – For
Cr Laurie Koranski – Abstain
Cr Jon Raven – For
Cr Tony Hall – For
Cr Tim Frazer – For
Cr Scott Bannan – For
Cr Miriam Stemp – Abstain
Cr Natalie Willcocks – Against
Cr Karen Murphy – For