Local Government Standards Panel rules Canning mayor breached regulations by misrepresenting fellow councillor

Local Government Standards Panel rules Canning mayor breached regulations by misrepresenting fellow councillor

CANNING Mayor Paul Ng breached local government regulations and intentionally misled the public about fellow councillor Patrick Hall in the lead-up to last year’s local government election, a panel has found.

The Local Government Standards Panel ruled Mayor Ng intentionally caused detriment to Cr Hall in a series of interviews with another local newspaper ahead of the local government elections last year.

He claimed Cr Hall had been dishonest about his support for the Willetton Basketball Association’s projects and accused him of misleading the community by publishing an election flyer claiming he helped secure $60,000 for the Rossmoyne Netball Club project.

The August 2017 ordinary council meeting minutes show Cr Hall moved a motion to allocate about $60,000 to the Rossmoyne Netball Club to part-fund the project, which was carried unanimously.

The panel also found the mayor misrepresented Cr Hall’s involvement in the Willetton Basketball Association project and breached councillor standards of conduct by initiating contact with the newspaper during the election period.

Cr Hall asked to defer funding applications for Willetton Basketball Association at council meetings in June and December 2016, which he said was not because he was opposed to the application, but because he wanted to seek clarity in relation to several issues.

The panel ruled Mayor Ng attempted to portray Cr Hall as a “dishonest and untrustworthy person, at a time when the community would be focused on candidates’ credibility”.

The panel decided against ordering the mayor to make a public apology, instead opting for him to undertake training to understand the importance of ethics in a leadership role.

Cr Hall said he felt vindicated by the findings.

“The timing of Mayor Paul Ng’s approach to the media – just 16 days before the 2017 Local Government Election – and his attempt to portray me as dishonest and untruthful, was an extraordinary and unprecedented act,” he said.

“My greatest disappointment is that many residents who read the 2017 front page story will have believed what had been written about me.

“I am therefore grateful for the panel’s assessment of the facts, and their unequivocal finding that the Mayor’s behaviour breached the Local Government Regulations.”

In a statement last week, Mayor Ng said he believed he had been acting in the City’s best interests at all times.