Augusta Margaret River Shire councillor Mike Smart has issued a statement in response to a Notice of Public Censure published in this week’s edition of the Mail.
The notice, issued by the Local Government Standards Panel, identified three breaches of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 (WA), over actions relating to the Flinders Bay boat ramp facility in Augusta.
The panel found Cr Smart had breached the regulations during discussions with a person “interested in bidding for work on a boat ramp within the Shire” and further breached regulations by using the Shire’s email system “to send the sensitive information to the person and to communicate with him about the estimated price for the proposed works on the boat ramp”.
The panel also found that in communicating with the person about the price for the proposed works, Cr Smart’s conduct amounted to performing a task that contributed to the Shire’s administration, a breach of regulation 9(1).
In engaging in this conduct, Councillor Smart made improper use of his office as a council member.Notice of Public Censure, Local Government Standards Panel
Cr Smart issued a statement on Wednesday in response to the censure, saying the public notice was poorly worded, and that conversations with a marine infrastructure expert were part of a two-year vision to make the Flinders Bay facility safer.
“The details relating to my recent Public Censure are that for around two years I have been endeavouring to have a hand rail and non slip surface installed on the lower disused Boat ramp at Flinders Bay,” Cr Smart said via email.
“This would enhance accessibility for those less mobile or parents with little children.
“In the course of conversations on other matters I asked a specialist in marine infrastructure to give me a rough idea what a simple structure to serve that purpose would cost.
“I provided a copy of one possible style of handrail via the Shire’s email system in an open and transparent manner as required by our guidelines.
“His response indicated a cost of around $15,000, we have had a figure of $26,000 in the budget for two years.
You be the judge as to the gravity of my actions, I have served the community for eleven years as a councillor and will continue to fight for equitable support for all sectors of the Shire.Cr Mike Smart
“Until this day no decision has been made to proceed with the facility and hence no design or request for quote have been progressed.
“My breach of regulations relate to firstly providing a rough concept drawing of one of many options to provide the handrail. (hardly sensitive information as indicated)
“Secondly using the Shire’s email system to communicate and receive a rough estimate of that cost. And thirdly, by having this discussion I was performing a task that contributed to the Shires administration.”
Cr Smart concluded by noting his lengthy service on the Augusta Margaret River council.
“You be the judge as to the gravity of my actions, I have served the community for eleven years as a councillor and will continue to fight for equitable support for all sectors of the Shire.”