NO COMMENT: Councillor Greg Barnes.
NO COMMENT: Councillor Greg Barnes. Max Fleet BUN090316BARNES1

Ex-mayor claims Barnes used position to benefit fish farm

A FORMER Burnett Shire mayor has claimed Bundaberg councillor Greg Barnes used his position of power to benefit a Childers fish farm he is a shareholder in.

The NewsMail can exclusively reveal Ray Duffy lodged a complaint with the Bundaberg Regional Council earlier this year after he heard about the purchase of a number of materials from a decommissioned treatment plant.

"There was a quantity of material that was (purchased) from one of the few plants and taken to a fish farm in Childers, which (Cr) Barnes has an interest in," Mr Duffy said.

His concerns revolve around whether the equipment had been made available to the general public before Cr Barnes bought them.

"I reported that issue to the council and as far as I understand it's been handed on to the appropriate authorities and is being investigated," Mr Duffy said.

"Everyone is entitled to a fair go. It should be handled by an independent arbitrator."

The NewsMail understands Cr Barnes was not aware of any complaint and is unaware of its specific content. He did not wish to comment.

Mr Duffy said a probe into the matter was needed to identify if Cr Barnes got hold of the items at a cheaper price than he would have if they'd been put up for sale, auction or tender.

Mr Duffy said when he was mayor of the former local government, the Burnett Shire Council, "we used to have regular auctions for surplus materials where anyone could bid".

"If you were a councillor and took possession of any materials, then that was fine, however, it's about being seen to be doing the right thing."

Bundaberg Regional Council has refused to clarify whether an investigation is ongoing.

"(The) council doesn't comment on matters which may or may not be under investigation," CEO Steve Johnston said.

Instead, he confirmed the treatment plant was decommissioned earlier this year.

"With the redirection of the Coral Cove sewer system to Bargara, the treatment plant on Pebble Beach Drive was no longer required," Mr Johnston told the NewsMail.

"(The) council awarded a contract in May to demolish the facility and remove all ground-level tanks and structures."

Abington Aquaculture, which Cr Barnes is a shareholder in, supplies native fish to Australian and international markets and grows fish such as Australian bass, silver perch, gold perch, barramundi and mangrove jack.



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