Councillor Les MucKan.
Councillor Les MucKan.

MucKan leaves chamber

INDIGENOUS councillor Les MucKan walked out of the council chamber again yesterday, this time on an issue of Native Title.

But not one councillor laughed at him.

Last week Mr MucKan stormed out after asking for a formal clarification of his perceived conflict of interest, considering his cultural heritage, on everything that came up for debate at council meetings.

He later accused some councillors of ridiculing him.

“I will need to leave the chamber because this is an issue to do with Native Title and conflict of interest and material personal interest,” he said at the outset of yesterday's community and development meeting.

“I have received an email from acting CEO Lisa Desmond saying my request for clarification from last week had gone to the Local Government Association and council is now waiting for further advice.

“I need more clarification so I will be leaving the chamber when the Native Title matter comes up for discussion.”

When it did, councillor Sue Brooks asked if Mr MucKan was “a current claimant”.

He said his mother Dorothy MucKan had initially been a signatory to the original Butchulla claim (over Fraser Island and much of the region) and as her spokesperson he needed to leave the discussion.

“A new Native Title application is coming through.”

It did and councillors voted to register with the federal court its interest in becoming a party to the two new claims.

Meanwhile Mr MucKan told the Chronicle he wanted clarification on his possible conflicts of interest with both Native Title and material personal interest, which concerned his cultural heritage.

Ms Desmond's email to Mr MucKan said that so far the LGA didn't believe he had a conflict of interest but that or even a perception “may arise when discussing land subject to a native claim and potentially a material personal interest if you were a party to the native title claim”.

Councillor O'Connell said Mr MucKan deserved a serious answer on his request – even though he himself didn't believe there was any conflict of interest.

“Les is valuable to council and this needs to be clarified.”

Mr MucKan said he was doing all this for those following in his footsteps and he had been receiving lots of support, including from family and friends saying, ‘Well done, uncle'.”

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