Incumbent mayor Jenny Whitney has been cleared of corruption allegations regarding the sale of council land for the now abandoned Chinatown development at Waterson Way.
Concerns raised by a local resident led to investigations surrounding a perceived conflict of interest, but the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has found that Ms Whitney did not act improperly.
“The findings by the CCC is that I do not have anything to answer to, what I have done has been correct,” she says.
Ms Whitney maintained that her actions were always legitimate and the allegations came down to a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest regarding the payment of expenses on a business trip to China two years ago.
She says she had no material conflict of interest in the proceedings with the Chinese developers, maintaining it was a perceived conflict.
“Part of my role as the mayor is to discuss developments that may happen… it’s about promoting our region and get growth and job opportunities for our community,” she says.
“There’s noting untoward in me meeting with investors to encourage them to our region.”
Whitsundays Council CEO Barry Omundson received a letter from the CCC last week laying the allegations against Ms Whitney to rest.
However she says the allegations were a deliberate attempt to hijack the development of the Chinatown precinct at Waterson Way.
“It’s been an attack to take many international investors away from our region, and it’s a shame that has occurred because we are currently experiencing one of the highest rates of unemployment within the region,” she says.
“I think a lot of the attacks are because there is a lot of misinformation out there and the community has not been provided with very factual information… a lot of that information comes from within our council board room.”
Whilst Cr Whitney is happy to be clear of the accusations, which she has regarded as ‘unfair’, she is disheartened by the Council’s recent decision to abolish the Chinatown development.
Ms Whitney was stripped of the chance to vote on the matter due to the corruption allegations against her at the time.
“My view on what occurred is it is economic vandalism at its greatest… had I been in the room I do believe that we would have had a different outcome and a better outcome for our community.”