A CODE of conduct matter has been escalated to the Office of Local Government after an unexplained walkout of councillors left a meeting without a quorum last month.
Councillors Kerry Pascoe, Yvonne Braid and Tim Koschel vacated the chamber one-after-another on September 28 when a code of conduct matter was discussed in the confidential section of the meeting.
The Daily Advertiser understands the code of conduct complaint relates to Councillor Paul Funnell, who left the chamber as per meeting protocol.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey had already vacated the room after declaring a conflict of interest. The council requires five of the nine councillors to be present to vote on a matter. After Crs Conkey and Funnell left the meeting, only seven remained. The meeting lost a quorum when Crs Pascoe, Braid and Koschel made the decision to leave, with only four councillors remaining.
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The reason behind Crs Pascoe, Braid and Koschel's decision to leave without declaring a conflict of interest prior to the matter being raised has not been made public.
Wagga City Council's general manager Peter Thompson has confirmed the agenda item did not proceed because a quorum was lost.
"A councillor isn't - under the rules applied - allowed to stand up and walk out of the room for the purpose of depriving a meeting of quorum, however, that is not the reason the councillors left that night," he said. "There was another reason they gave."
Cr Funnell said the code of conduct matter first appeared at a meeting on September 14 where Cr Rod Kendall was allowed to leave to attend to a personal matter.
Cr Kendall attempted to rejoin 19 minutes later once he changed devices and was in a location that afforded confidentiality. The complaint was deferred.
Cr Funnell said he sought legal advice relating to "the process that the councillors participated in" that night, which he presented to the council at the September 28 meeting before removing himself from the debate. "I got legal advice on it and did not participate and apparently three councillors left, they lost quorum and that is not my problem," he said.
Cr Braid said she decided to leave because two other councillors had already left.
"How can you hold a meeting, if you haven't got all the people there?" she said.
Cr Pascoe said the matter was in confidential therefore he was not prepared to explain why he left the room. Cr Koschel was contacted for comment. The matter has been referred to the Office of Local Government because the council did not have a quorum.