Newly appointed Liberal candidate for Wendouree Amy Johnson will step aside as chair of the City of Ballarat’s Community Safety Advisory Committee after questions around potential conflicts of interest were raised.
Fellow councillor and committee member Des Hudson raised the query after Cr Johnson was officially announced as a state parliament candidate on Wednesday. He said the role posed a clear conflict of interest given law and order would be a campaign issue.
The North Ward councillor is now in her third year on the bi-monthly committee and was elected chair at the beginning of 2018.
“If she’s wanting to campaign on community safety issues she should not be doing it as the chair of the committee, she should be doing it as a candidate,” said Cr Hudson, who is a member of the Labor Party.
If (Amy Johnson's) wanting to campaign on community safety issues she should not be doing it as the chair of the committee.Des Hudson - councillor
In late 2017 Buninyong Labor candidate Michaela Settle agreed to leave the committee until after the election after she earned pre-selection.
Speaking with The Courier last week, Cr Johnson said Ballarat was facing a law and order crisis. “Crime is a really big issue in Ballarat, the community are fed up, we need only look at [Tuesday’s] two home invasions to see why people don’t feel safe in their own homes,” Cr Johnson told The Courier.
Municipal Association of Victoria guidelines state a councillor who is endorsed as a candidate for election “should not use council activities, including committee meetings and council-related external activities in relation to his/her candidacy”.
Cr Johnson said she could “understand the rationale” behind being asked to stand aside as chair but would remain on the committee as a council representative.
“In regards to rest of my committee roles there’s very clear guidelines on how candidates need to behave and I’ll adhere to those,” Cr Johnson said.