Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington has insisted that Councillor Frank Pardon, who has been convicted of child sexual assault charges, must be removed as a councillor even if he does not receive a prison sentence.
Pardon, 70, was convicted today, Wednesday 11 December, in the Maroochydore District Court of 10 counts of sexual assault relating to acts committed against a 14 year old girl during the 1990s.
The trial began on Tuesday 3 December, with the jury having delivered its verdict earlier today.
Pardon has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced this Friday 13 December.
Under the Queensland Local Government Act a councillor is automatically disqualified from office if they receive a custodial or prison sentence for an offence, including a suspended sentence served outside prison.
This means that technically Pardon could continue in office as a Noosa councillor if he does not receive such a sentence, but Mayor Tony Wellington today told the media that even in such a scenario the council will demand that State Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe remove Pardon from office, which as minister Mr Hinchliffe has the power to do.
“Custodial sentence or not, I do not believe it is appropriate for Frank Pardon to continue his councillor role,” Mayor Tony Wellington said in a statement this afternoon.
“I am deeply disturbed by the court verdict,” he said.
“I extend my sympathies to the young woman, who had to go through this ordeal.
“No one should have to endure such an experience.
“While these incidents occurred more than 25 years ago, and prior to Frank Pardon’s election as a councillor, no one can condone or accept such actions by an individual.
“As a father of a daughter, and grandfather to a granddaughter, my heart goes out to the young woman and her entire family.”
The mayor said in the event Cr Pardon ceases to be a councillor he will not be replaced prior to the March 2020 elections.
“In accordance with the Local Government Act 2009, a by-election is not required if a vacancy occurs less than six months before the scheduled election,” Cr Wellington said.
“Thus, Cr Pardon’s position will remain vacant until filled at the March Local Government elections,” he said.