THE plot thickens for the South Gippsland Shire Council after the Supreme Court last week ordered a neighbour of the Bald Hills Wind Farm to answer questions about the alleged leaking of confidential council information.
In the frame for the incident is Cr Andrew McEwen whose Meeniyan home was raided by police in May last year as part of a probe by the Local Government Inspectorate.
Cr McEwen has consistently denied any wrong-doing in relation to the matter.
It follows an announcement on Tuesday last week, by the Local Government Minister, Adem Somyurek, that council show cause within 28 days as to why it should not be suspended and replaced by an administrator.
Last week, on Wednesday, April 3, a Supreme Court judgment regarding Tarwin Lower resident John Zakula was delivered in which Justice Keogh found in favour of the plaintiff, Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf.
The court made orders that Mr Zakula comply by Tuesday, April 16, 2019 with the original notices served on him by the Local Government Inspectorate, which included the requirement that he appear and answer questions related to a current investigation.
The notices were served as part of an investigation into the improper use of information from the South Gippsland Shire Council, allegedly by Cr McEwen.
The information in question was an internal email from the CEO Tim Tamlin to councillors and the shire’s senior staff pertaining to legal advice about nuisance noise complaints by Walkerville and Tarwin Lower farmers.
According to a statement by the Inspectorate, Mr Zakula allegedly refused to comply with the notices in March 2018 and the matter was heard in the Supreme Court in September 2018, with the judgment handed down last Wednesday.
Mr Zakula was also ordered to pay legal costs.
Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf said: “The finding and orders of the court allow this serious investigation to proceed to its conclusion. The Inspectorate will inform the community of the outcomes of the investigation in the interests of transparency.”
The Inspectorate also noted: “As the investigation is still ongoing, no further comment can be made at this time.”
A person may be required to appear for a formal examination before the Chief Municipal Inspector or his delegate under oath to answer questions, as set out in the Local Government Act section 223B(2)(c).
The Supreme Court decision on April 3, 2019 was made in accordance with section 223C(3)(a).