From the Newsroom
Geoff Helisma Councillor Deborah Novak has refused to apologise for a comment she made at the May 2020 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting. Regional Express (REX) airline, which services the Clarence Valley Regional Airport, took offence to Cr Novak saying REX should “pull their finger out” during debate at the May meeting – at the time, councillors were considering granting REX a 50 per cent cut to head tax charges incurred during the months of February and March, 2020. At the October 27 CVC meeting, when asked to make an apology to councillors, Cr Novak said, “As previously stated to the mayor and general manager … an apology will not be forthcoming.” Mayor Jim Simmons said, “We can go no further with the matter today.” “The matter will be referred to elsewhere, as referred to at the confidential meeting in September – the matter is closed; we now have to move on through the reports.” Councillor Simmons confirmed with the Independent that the “matter was referred to the Office of Local Government; for advices regarding anything else that could be done”. Councillor Simmons also confirmed that Cr Novak had not necessarily breached any codes. “My understanding of it is that she may not have been found to commit any breach of the code,” he said. “[The reviewer] brought back a reason on how the matter [could] be dealt with by council – one of which was Cr Novak apologising to council. “So in accordance with the resolution from the September meeting, once she refused to apologise, council had no option but to follow the resolution [from] September – the apology itself.” Meanwhile, Cr Novak has told the Independent that she “feels it is too early to make any statements while there is an ongoing investigation”.