Johnston thrown out of council meeting amid cover-up claims

Independent councillor Nicole Johnston was suspended for eight days yesterday after claiming a “cover-up” by Brisbane City Council.

Cr Johnston received a suspension warning from council chairman Cr Margaret de Wit when she continued to refer to the Queensland Ombudsman’s recent review into code of conduct complaints matters.

Cr de Wit repeatedly ordered Cr Johnston to resume her seat.

“It is not a report that deals with the ombudsman or issues with the ombudsman,” Cr de Wit said.

“It is a fairly simple report about the changes being made to the code of conduct.”

Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner’s motion to suspend Cr Johnston was carried after she called the lack of debate a “cover-up”.

Cr Johnston tried to debate the draft code of conduct for councillors tabled by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk as part of the Establishment and Co-ordination Committee Report.

She said how complaints were made to the CEO of council was part of the code of conduct.

“The ombudsman has insisted and made a recommendation that the CEO of council release that report to all councillors,” Cr Johnston said.

Opposition leader Cr Milton Dick said a bipartisan approach had established the 2008 code of conduct, but the LNP had not consulted opposition councillors in drafting a watered-down code of conduct for 2012.

Cr Quirk said the code of conduct may have a short life due to a pending review of the City of Brisbane Act.

He said he would consider a bipartisan committee to review the Act.

After the debate Cr Dick told Newsbytes he was fearful that the opposition would have no input and the Act may be changed significantly as the lord mayor had not committed to a bipartisan review.

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