Official complaints by two Noosa councillors who alleged Cr Ingrid Jackson had committed a number of breaches of the Council’s code of conduct have been found to be not substantiated, lacking in substance, or frivolous following an external assessment.
One councillor, who was named, and another councillor who wished to remain anonymous submitted two separate lists totalling seven complaints alleging a string of breaches of the code by Cr Jackson.
The complaints related to posts and comments on Cr Jackson’s Facebook page and to procedural matters at council meetings which the complainants alleged had breached the code.
After a thorough external investigation, interviews with the three councillors and a report to the Council CEO, all seven complaints were dismissed as either not substantiated, lacking in substance or, in one case, frivolous.
“It has been a trying time, extending over many months, and I’m relieved and pleased with the outcome,” Cr Jackson said.
“My Councillor Facebook page provides information on some of the activities and deliberations of Noosa Council in which I am engaged and offers opportunities for people to contribute feedback about local issues.
“It is an important responsibility of councillors to communicate in a straightforward way with the community and that is what I’m trying to do.
“I believe the decision to reject the complaints in their entirety vindicates what I am doing to inform the people of Noosa about Council matters that are in the public arena.”
Cr Jackson said she believed the complaints were “an attempt to shut down my Facebook activities and humiliate me” by the two councillors.
“People expect politics to be hard-edged, but it should not be personal,” she said.
“Both councillors could have raised their concerns with me first, but they went straight to a formal complaint.
Cr Jackson said a Council needs to operate with civility and collegiality.
“Councillors must respect the rights of colleagues to disagree without regarding them as antagonists. After all, the people of Noosa elected each one of us as a free voice.
“All of us were elected as independents and we should not be expected to be part of some political team.”
Cr Jackson said her activities to make Noosa Council more transparent and accountable to the community would continue.
“I have been advocating greater openness and transparency by the Council and I think we’re getting somewhere,” she said.
“If our community is to progress and achieve what we want for it, people must be engaged. And to be effectively engaged, they need to be fully and properly informed.
Cr Jackson said she had no difficulty with the deliberative processes of the Council.
“I find that mature debate and argument lead to better outcomes,” she said.
“But politics, especially at a local level, should not disparage or intimidate individuals. It should a vehicle for mature leadership and sound decision-making.
“I will continue to pursue my 2016 election commitment to stand for policies that provide a reasonable balance between the community, business and the environment and to show the greatest respect to the people of Noosa.”