Were they conflicted?

The spectre of councillor conflict reappeared at the Future Melbourne Committee in October.

The motion before councillors on October 17 was a planning matter concerning poker machines (see our story on page 7).

At the last council election, Team Doyle councillors accepted $50,500 from the Australian Hotels Association as well as $10,000 from Crown director Harold Mitchell.

Team Doyle councillors Robert Doyle, Arron Wood, Nicholas Reece, Susan Riley, Tessa Sullivan and Kevin Louey chose to remain the committee room for the agenda item.

In answer to a question about potential conflict from CBD News, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said: “We sought advice on that, for that very reason (accepting campaign donations), and the advice to us from governance was, unless there was a direct submission, from one of those direct donors, then there was no conflict.”

The Local Government Act says councillors should excuse themselves if their donor has a direct interest in a matter subject to the decision.

There are exceptions if the “interest is so remote or insignificant that a reasonable person would not consider the interest capable of influencing the decision”.

Loss of quorum has plagued Team Doyle councillors over the past nine years.

Most recently, the team excused itself from participating in a debate over heritage protection in Southbank because of the link between Mr Mitchell's role as a director of Crown and the fact that Crown owns property in the area.

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