CONTROVERSIAL former Derwent Valley Councillor Paul Belcher twice handed over confidential information to a media outlet despite being told by the General Manager it should not be disclosed. As a result of the disclosure the Director of Local Government took Mr Belcher to the Hobart Magistrates Court and he was found guilty, fined $2000 and banned from standing for local government for five years. The penalty is at the higher end of the scale, with the maximum being a seven-year ban.
Local Government Director Mathew Healey said Mr Belcher breached the local government act twice. “The complaint was that former Councillor Belcher disclosed to Damien Bester information that was given to him by the General Manager on the condition that it be kept confidential on two occasions in February and March 2020,’’ Mr Healey said. Mr Bester is the owner of the New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News.
Mayor Michelle Dracoulis said in her six months on Council she said a range of mechanisms had been put in place to ensure elected members understood their responsibilities. “These include workshops with management that provide an opportunity for elected members to ask questions and clarify matters of governance, finances and strategic initiatives,’’ Mrs Dracoulis said.
“All elected members also have the opportunity to contact and meet with management on an individual basis. “Management keeps elected members apprised of key matters via briefing papers which are a timely way of providing information outside of our monthly workshops. “Targeted training sessions with industry experts relating to specific topics such as managing conflict of interest, understanding financial responsibilities, and understanding your role as an elected representative have also been made available to all elected members.”
Mr Belcher resigned from the DVC last December after he was told by the Local Government Minister Roger Jaensch he had to undergo compulsory ethics training or risk being suspended.
Mr Belcher was given three months to undertake the training with a focus on his obligations as a councillor to comply with the Local Government Code of Conduct, not to bring the Council or the role of Councillor into disrepute and not reflect adversely on the reputation of the Council. However he quit Council before undertaking the training.
He was also told he had to take action to make his business, Pauly’s Pizza, compliant with Council health and environmental requirements