Response to Ombudsman’s Decision
Posted on June 23, 2022
Northern Midlands Council will comply with a direction from the Ombudsman to assess the information requested by a ratepayer for disclosure under the Right to Information Act.
Mayor, Mary Knowles OAM said today the nature of the requested information was not the issue for Council as most of it was either already on the public record or had been provided to the ratepayer, Mr Andrew McCullagh, in response to an earlier RFI request and through other legal processes.
“Council respects the Office of the Ombudsman and of course will comply with the decision. However, we disagree with the Ombudsman’s conclusions on this occasion and maintain that the RTI was substantially the same as an earlier RFI request from Mr McCullagh,” she said.
Mayor Knowles said Council felt the Ombudsman ought to have placed more weight on the context of the RTI refusal.
“In that regard, Mr McCullagh has a long history of vexatious complaints against Council decisions and has made many personal attacks on councillors, me as Mayor, the General Manager, and other staff which stem largely from disputes over his company’s property development and rezoning applications.
The Ombudsman’s decision says that it makes no judgement on the appropriateness or otherwise of interactions between Mr McCullagh and Council but notes that Council’s reaction is understandable given his questioning of the integrity of the General Manager and Mayor and the ongoing litigation and dispute between Mr McCullagh and Council.
“It should be noted Council considers many of the public comments by Mr McCullagh against councillors and staff to be defamatory and is currently seeking legal redress through the courts,” Mayor Knowles said.
Mayor Knowles said that in relation to the substantive issues of the RTI request, Council has always acted and will continue to act in the best interests of all residents and will not tolerate attempts by anybody to bully and harass officers to get their own way.
For further information, please contact Mayor Mary Knowles OAM on 0408 766 625.
Right to Information 2020 Andrew McCullagh Answers to Enquiry
Right to Information 2020 Andrew Mc Cullagh no of titles
R2202 120 Preliminary decision letter NMC 060622