The importance of the integrity expectations on the office of councillor were reinforced in court with the conviction of former Murrindindi Shire councillor Chris Healy on five charges of misuse of position.
Magistrate John Murphy handed down his decision on Wednesday 10 October at Shepparton Magistrates Court, convicting Mr Healy on all five charges and ordering him to pay a $10,000 fine and $20,000 in prosecution legal costs.
As a former councillor, on five separate occasions, Mr Healy attempted to gain an advantage by making improper use of information, acquired while a councillor, regarding Murrindindi Shire’s proposed rating strategy.
Magistrate Murphy said there are “very high standards set by the community for elected officials, in this case council, and such offences undermine the duties of councillors”.
The court heard that Mr Healy was privy to information on the potential tenderers for a rating strategy review, which he used on five occasions in 2012 to make written and oral submissions to council and a local trader and tourism representative group. As a ratepayer of three commercial properties in Eildon, Mr Healy’s actions were undertaken to gain an advantage to improve his personal situation.
Mr Healy earlier faced court on 18-19 July and the case was part-heard with the decision handed down at a further hearing on 10 October.
The Inspectorate began its investigation in March 2015 and charged Mr Healy in April 2017 in relation to the misuse of position under section 76D(1) of the Local Government Act 1989.
Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf said: "It is important that any person who holds or has held the office of councillor not misuse information they are privy to for personal gain. This finding supports the integrity expectations for the office of councillor."
Update: Mr Healy has appealed the conviction and a hearing has been set for 9-10 September 2019 in the Melbourne County Court.
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Reviewed 23 June 2021