Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Fraser Coast Regional Council. Lauren Smit

Pyne leak back in the spotlight for council meeting

WHILE the council continues its investigation into a damaging email leak, councillors are taking their own action on the latest move by Cairns MP Rob Pyne.

The Chronicle understands the Fraser Coast Regional Council will discuss and likely move a motion on Mr Pyne's leak of the council document at tomorrow's council meeting, after the MP tabled a confidential council email in parliament last week.

"It is likely that the matter will be discussed at the Council meeting to be held on August 16,” Fraser Coast Regional Council CEO Ken Diehm said.

The email, dated May 23, makes a number of financial allegations of the council's finances, including claims of $170 million of ratepayer money in reserve accounts.

It will be the second time the council has moved a motion regarding Mr Pyne's conduct this year.

In May, councillors voted 7-4 to refer him to the parliamentary ethics committee after the contents of council's organisational review were tabled in parliament that same month.

Councillor Stuart Taylor said he was disappointed at how the issue transpired.

"The issues in the email that was tabled in parliament have not been raised with the council collective, and it is disappointing to read it for the first time as a tabled document in Queensland parliament,” Cr Taylor said.

"The email refers to a report to be considered by council, and to my knowledge council is yet to receive or consider this report.

"I look forward to having a discussion on this matter at the council meeting, as I understand it is being discussed then.”

Councillor David Lewis, who condemned Mr Pyne on Friday for the leak, said he anticipated the motion would be another referral to the ethics committee.

But he said the bulk of information relating to the reserve accounts was "publicly available information” and had already been allocated for different council projects.

"The total amount of funds held in reserves the council has is not a secret, the figures are published regularly,” Cr Lewis said.

"It's held in reserves for specific purposes and that total amount will obviously change from week to week as money is spent on various projects.”

Cr Lewis said he would see if a report could be provided to clear up misunderstandings about the position of council's funds.

Other issues raised in the email allege a "grossly inequitable burden” on Maryborough CBD property owners, a "bullying culture” within the council and "approval of tenders regardless of dollar value.”

The council has taken steps to address concerns in the email since it was sent, along with a raft of recommendations outlined in their organisational review.

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