A Wagga resident has slammed Wagga City Council's handling of complaints after an investigation, which she said found a councillor guilty of spreading "blatant lies" about her, was swept under the carpet.
Charles Sturt University lecturer Jacquie Tinkler said her code of conduct complaint was one of the 11 investigated in the last 12 months, which resulted in the council racking up a total bill of $60,000.
Although the findings were in Dr Tinkler's favour, she said the council voted to protect the identity of the councillor who knowingly engaged in "bullying behaviour" towards her by spreading "malicious rumours" at a public council meeting.
Wagga council, nor Dr Tinkler, will publicly reveal the councillor involved in this complaint. However, The Daily Advertiser understands the matter relates to the climate emergency debate at a council meeting last year.
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"Ratepayers have in effect paid for an investigation, one of their elected representatives has been found guilty, and they don't even get to know who the culprit is. This is hardly money well spent," she said.
In its current state, Dr Tinkler said making complaints is "completely useless" and a "waste of time and money".
She said there needs to be "serious ramifications" if the council continues to spend large sums of money on investigations.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said the current process is "a toothless tiger" and explained the group decides whether a councillor in breach of the code is named. But, in his opinion, the public should be made aware.
"I certainly support the public release of the independent investigator's report so the public can see," Cr Conkey said.
"That is one way for the public to find out what is going on and make up their own mind as to whether it is serious or trivial."
Dr Tinkler said her expectation, like the rest of the community's, is to have complaints "taken seriously".
Instead she said what she got was a drawn-out investigation where the culprit was found breaching the code in several ways, "but nobody is the wiser" and a councillor is likely to continue behaving poorly.
"You can't do that to members of the public and you should be held accountable in some way even if it is a public apology," she said.
"What it has done to me is feel antagonistic towards the institution that's the council. I cannot trust them, it is a flawed process.
"It was contemptuous, that is, my feelings and the ramification against me are of no regard."
Cr Conkey said he understood the frustrations held by the residents of Wagga and assured the councillors share in this frustration.
"I can understand people's reluctance to lodge a code of conduct ... because nothing happens," he said.
Cr Conkey said this is a problem that councils state-wide have been discussing at length. But, he said the question is if the state government is listening to the council's frustrations.