Councillor Graham Walkom reprimanded by Kangaroo Island Council for conflict of interest

NOVEMBER MEETING: Elected members stand for a division over the Infrastructure and Asset Management Plan at the November meeting. Photo Stan Gorton
NOVEMBER MEETING: Elected members stand for a division over the Infrastructure and Asset Management Plan at the November meeting. Photo Stan Gorton

Kangaroo Island councillor Graham Walkom has been reprimanded after a report by the SA Ombudsman found he did not declare a conflict of interest on two occasions.

The Ombudsman of SA found that Cr Walkom voted on matters pertaining to former council chief executive officer Andrew Boardman despite his involvement in a legal matter with Mr Boardman.

"The legal proceedings between Mr Boardman and Cr Walkom followed a Facebook post by Mr Walkom in early July 2018 in which Cr Walkom is alleged to have impersonated Mr Boardman. Those proceedings were, I understand, settled in February 2019," the Ombudsman states in the report.

The KI Council, at its November meeting, received that final report from the Ombudsman, who recommended that Mr Walkom be reprimanded.

Cr Sam Mumford, seconded by Cr S Pledge, moved a motion that in accordance with the Ombudsman's recommendations, the council reprimand Cr Walkom, require him to issue an apology and undertake training in regards to conflict of interest.

This was carried six for and one against.

Cr Walkom sought leave from the meeting to make a personal explanation.

"In this case the Ombudsman has taken more than 18 months and hundreds of hours at significant cost to determine two minor code of conduct breaches by myself," he said.

While he accepted the need for this oversight of council's processes, he said more effective means were needed.

He claimed the investigation cost the council $30,000 and he therefore apologised to council, to council's administration and the ratepayers of this council for the time and costs spent.

Meanwhile, Cr Walkom, at the November meeting, also moved a motion that the council look at options to call expressions of interest for either a long term lease or sale of council's airport to save costs. This was lost, two for and six against.

Councillors also were updated on efforts to protect the Island's townships from bushfire. Asset manager John Fernandez said "all the low-hanging fruit" or easy tasks had been completed, and now the council awaited a report from 10 Rivers consultants recommending long-term action plans.

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