South Gippsland councillor charged with misusing position

A councillor from the Victorian Council at the centre of a Commission of Inquiry has been charged with misusing his position. 

Victoria’s Local Government Inspectorate has charged South Gippsland Shire councillor Andrew McEwen with one count of misuse of position for allegedly providing information to a resident who was involved in Supreme Court action against the council early last year.

Clr Andrew McEwen

Under local government laws, it is an offence for a person holding the position of councillor to misuse their position by making improper use of information to gain or attempt to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for another person.

The maximum penalty for the offence is $95,142 or five years jail, or both.

A conviction would also result in an eight-year ban from holding the office of councillor.

South Gippsland earlier this month dumped its CEO, saying it needed a “new direction” after the Victorian government ordered a Commission of Inquiry into council.

Last month, the state’s municipal watchdog handed down a report calling for the entire council to be sacked, prompting the State Government to call on council to “show cause” as to why it shouldn’t be sacked.

South Gippsland Council earlier this month responded to the notice by making submissions to Local Government Minister Adam Somyurek which are yet to be publicly released.

Minister Somyurek said that suspending the council is still “under consideration” and council’s response would be carefully considered by the Minister and Commission of Inquiry.

It also comes as the mayor and seven councillors at Brisbane’s Logan City Council face fraud charges relating to the dismissal of a former CEO.

Clr McEwen is set to appear at Korumburra Magistrates’ Court on 4 July 2019.

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