Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen has applauded a decision to disqualify controversial councillor Allan Robinson from public office.
Following action initiated by the NSW Office of Local Government, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) found the former champion jockey and The Footy Show star engaged in inappropriate conduct within City of Newcastle (CN) chambers.
It includes Mr Robinson “making grossly homophobic statements against a fellow councillor and defending those statements in interviews with journalists in his capacity as a council member”; “making remarks relating to another councillor’s weight and food consumption, and remarks about a third councillor’s personal appearance”; and “engaging in unwanted physical contact with another councillor, in a forceful and intimidating manner”.
NCAT’s findings mean the ex-Newcastle Independents member cannot contest the next council election, effectively eliminating him from a local government role until September 2028.
The tribunal deemed a period of disqualification was appropriate… to protect the public “from this kind of conduct by local councillors”.
It will also make an order as to costs in coming weeks.
Cr Clausen hailed the NCAT outcome, firing a shot at Newcastle Independents colleague John Church in the process.
“The homophobic abuse I received was unrelenting,” he said.
“So, the tribunal’s decision is welcome.
“It sends a clear signal to all that blatant homophobia and sexism is inappropriate in all workplaces, including the council chamber.
“While Cr Church and powerful businessmen repeatedly defended Mr Robinson, this decision will mean our community is protected from his high-profile homophobic behaviour.
“NCAT found he engaged in sexist and unwanted behaviour towards multiple female councillors, too.
“While his comments directed toward me attracted the most media interest, his actions towards them were equally egregious.”
Cr Clausen insisted he was proud the community “voted out” most of Mr Robinson’s Newcastle Independent colleagues at the 2021 election.
“Those who previously argued the actions of the party’s councillors were part of a ‘both sides are bad’ situation cannot ignore the fact the current council has engaged respectfully in debates about contentious issues, despite our political differences,” he said.
“NCAT’s ruling to disqualify Mr Robinson from running in next year’s election sends a clear message to all in politics about the conduct our community expects of elected representatives.
“It’s high time for Cr Church to reflect on his role in enabling and seeking electoral benefit from Mr Robinson’s disgusting behaviour.
“He had at least 16 opportunities to formally condemn him, but instead repeatedly voted to suppress reports and against censure.
“The tribunal has held Mr Robinson to account.
“At some point, Cr Church – as the party’s leader – must be held accountable, too.”
Mr Robinson is the second former Newcastle Independents councillor to be sanctioned, following Kath Elliott’s suspension from civic office in 2021.
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