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Hurstville councillor Con Hindi investigated for misconduct

The potential problems when local councillors are also property developers have been highlighted in a report tabled in NSW Parliament on Wednesday.

The antics of the controversial property-developing Auburn councillor Salim Mehajer have been well publicised.

Now, Hurstville's property developing Liberal councillor Con Hindi will be the subject of a formal investigation over allegations of misconduct, according to a report by the Office of Local Government.

Last year Fairfax Media revealed that Cr Hindi repeatedly failed to comply with orders from his own council staff to remediate his asbestos-contaminated development site in Crump Street, Mortdale.

In a highly-charged council meeting in May last year, Cr Hindi, the then-mayor, used his casting vote to suspend the council's general manager Victor Lampe.

This controversial move prevented Mr Lampe from briefing council on possible fines or prosecution of Cr Hindi over his unauthorised building works and failure to remediate his development site.


Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said on Wednesday that the Office of Local Government will pursue Cr Hindi for alleged misconduct and that an investigation was underway.

"The community deserves the highest standard of conduct by councillors as their elected representatives. Where serious concerns warrant investigation, we will fully investigate them," Mr Toole said.

The report also found the council did not act appropriately when suspending Mr Lampe and recommended the general manager's immediate return to work.

The move to suspend the general manager was orchestrated by Cr Vince Badalati, who despite being a member of the Labor Party, is a close ally of Cr Hindi.

According to the report, two days after the decision to suspend the general manager, councillors Badalati and Hindi drove a person making a complaint against Mr Lampe to the offices of Carroll O'Dea Lawyers.

Despite having no authority to do so, the pair assured the complainant that the council would pay her legal expenses, the report notes.

Both Mr Badalati and Mr Hindi will be recommended for further investigation for misconduct in relation to the "potential misuse of legal advice".

The council also hired investigators to dig up dirt on Mr Lampe. The cost of this investigation and Mr Lampe's nine-month suspension on full pay is estimated to have cost ratepayers $450,000.

The report also revealed Cr Hindi illegally taped conversations in possible breach of the Surveillance Devices Act.

Fairfax Media previously revealed that Cr Hindi used his mayoral letterhead to threaten a neighbour who complained about his Crump Street development site.

The report raised the problem on having property developers on council saying that Hurstville Council "did not have procedures in place to manage the situation of a councillor effectively wearing two hats: one as a developer and the other as a councillor, thereby creating the impression that the councillor was receiving preferential treatment or access to senior council staff."

Opposition leader Luke Foley has called for property developers to be banned from local government.