Tribunal upholds Max Phillips’ appeal against suspension from Marrickville Council
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal has upheld an appeal by Greens Councillor Max Phillips and set aside a two month suspension from Marrickville Council ordered by the Director General of the Division of Local Government. The decision vindicates Councillor Phillips claim that the information he released to the public was not confidential and dismisses all breaches of the Councillor Code of Conduct.
The decision by Justice W Haylen is available here: Phillips v Director General, Department of Premier and Cabinet  NSWCATOD 48
In December 2012, Councillor Phillips made public information that Meriton had proposed a Voluntary Planning Agreement with Marrickville Council to exchange $5 million for an extra 10 storeys of height and added density. Councillor Phillips was critical that the proposal was deemed confidential and to be dealt with behind closed doors.
“I’m elated that I have won my appeal and particularly pleased that the Tribunal has agreed that confidentiality was misused or misunderstood and that I was acting in the public interest and fulfilling my role as a councillor,” said Greens Councillor Max Phillips.
“The Labor Councillors have used this process to try to silence and punish me for blowing the whistle on what many residents saw as a dodgy council process. The Greens will always support planning matters being discussed in open, public sessions – not behind closed doors.
“The current hearings at ICAC underline just how important it is that planning matters be conducted in public, particularly where large sums of money are on offer.
“This decision sends strong message to councillors across NSW that they should act in the public interest and not be intimidated by other councillors or staff on issues of confidentiality.
“The claim of confidentiality is often misused to keep decisions away from public scrutiny and I encourage people to always question whether there is a valid justification for something being deemed confidential.
“I found the review system of the Division of Local Government to be convoluted and Kaftaesque. They seem only interested in enforcing the majority decision of a council rather than reviewing the substance or underlying truth of a matter. It was only at the Tribunal that I felt there was real consideration of the issues. There should be a review of DLG system of review,” he said.
Contact: Cr Max Phillips 0419 444 916