The Office of Local Government has suspended Newcastle Independents councillor Kath Elliott for six weeks for leaking an investigation report into one of her own code-of-conduct breaches.
Cr Elliott, who is facing re-election in seven weeks, said she would appeal against the judgment to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on the basis that it contained administrative errors.
OLG coordinator general Kiersten Fishburn found Cr Elliott had leaked a confidential investigation report to the media in April last year along with details of other code-of-conduct complaints against her.
In a decision posted on the OLG website, Ms Fishburn said Cr Elliott had engaged in misconduct under the Local Government Act "that cannot be characterised as technical or trivial in nature".
Ms Fishburn ruled Cr Elliott had intentionally provided to the media confidential details of at least 12 code-of-conduct complaints about herself, excerpts of transcripts of interviews of identified individuals, her own submissions in relation to a number of conduct complaints and information that identified complainants.
Cr Elliott had shown a "blatant disregard" for the council's code of conduct and the procedures which underpinned them.
Her "deliberate misconduct" had brought into disrepute "both her own council and local government as a whole".
Cr Elliott has alleged in the past that the string of complaints against her have been largely politically motivated.
The Newcastle Herald reported last year that an external workplace consultant had found Cr Elliott committed a "serious breach" in verbally abusing chief executive officer Jeremy Bath during a council workshop.
The consultant's report alleged Cr Elliott had told Mr Bath she was "sick of the way you run this f---ing joint" and that she thought he was a "stooge for the lord mayor".
Mr Bath told investigators Cr Elliott's verbal spray was "one of the most spectacular dressing downs I've ever received in my corporate life".
Other complaints arose from her comments in media interviews about the ongoing costs of the council's move to new offices, Facebook posts and taking home confidential business papers.
The consultant's report into Cr Elliott's clash with Mr Bath said the OLG had recommended she be formally censured over the matter.
The previous Newcastle councillor to be censured over a code-of-conduct complaint was former lord mayor John Tate in 2010.
Cr Elliott and the Labor majority have been regular sparring partners in the council chamber.
Newcastle Independents lord mayoral candidate John Church queried the timing of the suspension "just weeks before the local government election".
"Questions need to be asked why the investigation took more than 15 months and the findings have only now been released," he said.
He said he was concerned that "the frequent engagement of the code-of-conduct process can serve to limit healthy and robust debate".
Cr Church said Cr Elliott had campaigned to "improve accountability and transparency" at the council and to reveal the costs of the move to Stewart Avenue.
"She believes the community has a right to know how people's rates are being spent and whether residents are getting value for money."
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