Balranald councillor suspended

Balranald Shire councillor Stephen O'Halloran has been suspended from council for two months. 

Cr O'Halloran's suspension for engaging in misconduct is effective from August 21.

This is his third code of conduct complaint, with disciplinary action taken in the two previous incidents. 

Cr O'Halloran was found by the New South Wales Government's Office of Local Government (OLG) chief executive Tim Hurst to be engaging in misconduct within the meaning of section 440F of the Local Government Act 1993. 

It's alleged during a telephone conversation between Cr O'Halloran and a council worker on January 2, Cr O'Halloran made threats "...otherwise his job might be on the line".

This resulted in him breaching four clauses of OLG council's code of conduct relating to general conduct, inappropriate interactions and obligations of councillors and administrators.

Furthermore, Cr O'Halloran engaged in misconduct towards Mayor Leigh Byron and Deputy Mayor Alan Purtill at the February ordinary council meeting. 

This was in breach of Clause 256 (Acts of Disorder) of the Government (General) Regulation 200 and was therefore considered to fail to act in accordance of the act.

Mr Hurst said he "carefully considered" the departmental report under the Local Government Act, supporting the claims against Cr O'Halloran.

"I have considered the submissions by Cr O'Halloran, dated July 13, 2018, on the question of breach," Mr Hurst said. 

"Cr O'Halloran offered no evidence in his submissions to alter the findings in the departmental report.

"Cr O'Halloran's submission does not refer to any mitigating factors or justification for him to have behaved in the manner in which he did."

Mr Hurst said O'Halloran had previously breached the code, which could be "considered a pattern of behaviour".

"Cr O'Halloran is an experienced councillor who has served as Mayor on at least four occasions," he said.

"Cr O'Halloran has been the subject of two previous code of conduct complaints and there was disciplinary action taken in each case."

Mr Hurst has ordered that Cr O'Halloran apologise to the council worker and Cr Byron at a council meeting and in his presence.

He has further been ordered to "cease engaging in misconduct".

In a short statement to The Guardian, Cr Byron said he was disappointed with the outcome. 

“Balranald Shire Council respects the findings of the Office of Local Government and the suspension order by the chief executive Tim Hurst.”

The Guardian has reached out to Cr O'Halloran for comment.

To read this story in full, grab a copy of Wednesday's edition of The Guardian (August 22). 

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