Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie defies mounting criticism over allegation of misappropriate conduct

Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie
Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie

PORT Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie continues to defy mounting criticism by community leaders over allegations of misappropriate conduct by preferring to talk up his deeds and contributions in 40 years of civic duty.

The mayor is embroiled in two controversial issues relating to work carried out on the Salt Ash equestrian complex by his company, Macca's Sand and Soil, and the dumping of two tonnes of material for a nearby BMX track.

In both instances, Cr MacKenzie said he was not sure whether a development application had been submitted.

The Examiner was awaiting a response from Port Stephens Council at the time of publication.

Cr MacKenzie said he organised dockets for the completed work on the equestrian complex, believed to be around $100,000, to be sent to the council.

"I make things happen though sometimes it could be on the fringe," he said.

"The work carried out by my company saved the council money because I was able to do it cheaper than the council.

"As for the BMX track, it will not be stopped; not over my dead body."

In both instances the mayor was accused of acting inappropriately, a charge he vehemently rejects.

He later revealed that a notice of motion calling on council staff to prepare a DA for the BMX track - signed by councillors Paul Le Mottee, Ken Jordan, Chris Doohan, Steve Tucker and himself - would go before the next council meeting.

As for calls for an independent investigation, Cr MacKenzie repeated that he would welcome any scrutiny whether it be Local Government or ICAC.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister Paul Toole said that allegations of a councillor misusing their position were concerning and confirmed that Port Stephens Council was being monitored closely by the Office of Local Government.

"Allegations of a breach of council's code of conduct are a matter for council to examine in the first instance.

"Any evidence that a councillor has misused their position should be provided to the council's general manager."

One of the mayor's most outspoken critics, Cr Geoff Dingle said on Tuesday that he had formally requested the general manager [Wayne Wallis] carry out an investigation over the associated matters.

"I'm not tabling a code of conduct as it's very clear to me that codes on this council are not effective and the details are already out in the public arena," he said.

"The community expects that the council supports our volunteers and protects them from any potential for councillors to override committee decisions."

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