Local News

Cr Novak in the clear

Geoff Helisma |


It appears that an alleged code of conduct breach brought against Cr Deborah Novak has been rescinded; however, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has kept the outcome confidential.

Following the May CVC meeting, an unnamed councillor alleged that Cr Novak broke the code of conduct when, during debate, she said that REX airlines should “pull their finger out”.

At the December 15 CVC meeting, councillors (apart from Cr Novak) voted to “not make public the [three] resolutions made in [the] closed session” – two of which dealt with code of conduct matters.

Notably, four councillors – Novak, Toms, Clancy and Simmons – voted against all three items being discussed confidentially, while councillors Baker, Williamson, Lysaught, Ellem and Kingsley voted to move into a confidential session.

At the October CVC meeting, Cr Novak said: “As previously stated to the mayor and general manager … an apology will not be forthcoming.”

At the time, the mayor, Jim Simmons, said, “We can go no further with the matter today.”

After the October meeting, Cr Simmons told the Independent that the “matter was referred to the Office of Local Government [OLG] for advices regarding anything else that could be done” and that Cr Novak “may not have been found to commit any breach of the code”.

Following the December CVC meeting, the Independent asked the mayor: “What happens next, in regard to the rescission motion for code of conduct decisions made at the August and September CVC meetings?”

Mayor Simmons said: “Having received a report from the OLG, council considered a recommendation to deal with it in another way.”

The mayor would not reveal what “another way” referred to, nor would he reveal what was discussed about item 2, regarding “Code of Conduct Procedures under Clause 10A 2 (i) of the Local Government Act”.

The third of the three items discussed the progress of the proposed Yamba Holiday Park (Calypso) upgrade – negotiations are currently taking place to establish an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) under the Native Title Act.

The outcome of the item was kept confidential in accordance with Clause 10A 2 (g) of the NSW Local Government Act because it included “advice concerning litigation, or advice that would otherwise be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege”.