CONFLICT: It was voted that Greg Barnes had a perceived conflict of interest relating to the Bargara development and was asked to leave the room.
CONFLICT: It was voted that Greg Barnes had a perceived conflict of interest relating to the Bargara development and was asked to leave the room. TAHLIA STEHBENS

COUNCIL BATTLE: Barnes's attempt to remove Dempsey's vote

COUNCILLOR Greg Barnes was removed from voting on the Bargara Jewel development application during yesterday's meeting after his attendance was voted on by council.

Cr Barnes addressed the room about his perceived conflict of interest and provided a lengthy account of instances that had occurred over the past 12 months.

On the list were instances of he and the project's developer Sheng Wei hosting and paying for dinners, the receipt of gifts by Cr Barnes from Mr Wei, and potential business negotiations between Cr Barnes and parties related to Mr Wei.

"The Mayor said I should not participate in the vote, but I disagree totally and believe I can participate and vote on the matter," Cr Barnes said.

The tourism portfolio holder stated he had sought advice from both his personal legal representation and the Integrity Commission of Queensland, to which Cr Barnes said he had been cleared to vote on the development application.

After it was voted that Cr Barnes did in fact have a perceived conflict of interest and would not be able to vote in the development application, the councillor claimed the Mayor also had a perceived conflict of interest that he had failed to identify.

Cr Barnes said he had obtained a letter from a member of staff "in good faith" in which the Mayor referred to Mr Wei as a "good friend."

"The letter states, 'Mr Mackey and I became good friends of Mr Sheng Wei,' and I'm concerned you have become mates with the applicant," he said. The Mayor said Cr Barnes had displayed "frivolous" and "incorrect" accusations and supplied a letter that had not been signed, nor was on council letterhead.

"As a Mayor you can only imagine the amount of drafts for particular requests or letters that are not actually sent, or are altered," Mayor Dempsey said.

"But I am confident that particular piece of paper provided by Cr Barnes was not sent."

Council later confirmed the letter had been written by a staff member and not the Mayor, and was changed because it was not accurate.



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