19 April 2024

'It's a breach of code': Wagga Mayor speaks out about alleged breach of confidentiality in dead horses case

| Jarryd Rowley
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Wagga Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout and Deputy Mayor Amelia Parkins have spoken out about claims a Wagga Wagga City Council member leaked details about a confidential investigation regarding the deaths of more than 500 horses on a Wagga Wagga property. Photo: File.

Mayor of Wagga Wagga Dallas Tout has spoken out about the allegation a councillor leaked confidential information about an ongoing investigation involving the deaths of 500 horses on a Wagga property.

Mr Tout expressed his disappointment about the revelation, explaining the responsibilities that council members had towards members of the public.

“It’s extremely disappointing that information from a confidential workshop for councillors is leaked,” he said.

“As part of the responsibility and the nature of being a councillor, there’s an obligation that sometimes you will be privy to confidential information prior to [it] becoming public.

“To have a councillor that didn’t abide by that obligation is disappointing, to say the least. What makes it even more disappointing is that this particular term of council has been very cohesive in working as one and to the code of conduct. It’s disappointing and upsetting.”

READ ALSO Investigations underway as 500 horses found dead on Wagga Wagga property

Wagga Wagga Deputy Mayor Amelia Parkins was also disappointed by the claim and sent an email to other members of the council detailing her disgust.

“Hi everyone, I am shocked, appalled and disgusted at what I’ve read in the news about a councillor leaking what was very clearly explained to us to be highly confidential information. It is unprincipled and inexcusable behaviour to break confidence in this manner,” she wrote.

Cr Tout explained that the reason the matter was confidential was because of several ongoing investigations by multiple local and State Government agencies.

“It was pertinent that until all of those ongoing investigations were completed that it be kept confidential,” he said.

“The issue at the time was that hypothetically, if the investigation was still ongoing and it broke to the media, then the potential lines of inquiry and or witnesses could go to ground because of the media attention,” Cr Tout said.

When asked about Member for Riverina Michael McCormack’s call for the councillor who allegedly leaked the news to be held to account, Cr Tout explained that rules within the code had been broken and the matter could potentially be looked at.

“It’s a breach of the code for sure,” Cr Tout said.

“If the matter is verified, there’s a potential that the councillor can be coded for a breach of confidentiality under the code of conduct.”

READ ALSO Call for State Government inquiry following discovery of hundreds of dead horses

Cr Tout welcomed Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr’s call for a State Government inquiry into how the horses were handled at the Wagga property.

“The vast majority of agencies involved in the investigation are state agencies,” Cr Tout said.

“We [Wagga Council] were enrolled in the periphery in regards to one matter, which was potential harm to the creek bed and the environmental impacts that may bring. All the other agencies are state-based, so I completely back Dr McGirr’s call to [Minister Penny Sharpe] to have an inquiry into the matter and how it got to where it was.”

The council is due to release its findings from the investigation within the next fortnight.

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Sheryl Gildea1:23 pm 20 Apr 24

I would have thought the bigger issue is how did this slaughter of horses go unnoticed for so long.

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