Both men have denied any wrongdoing and have refused to stand aside, with Cr Badalati reaffirming to the Sydney Morning Herald, “I know I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Monday’s extraordinary meeting, scheduled after the resolution urging councillors under investigation to stand down, heard heated debate regarding the previous vote from members of the public and elected officials.
Labor councillor Kathryn Landsberry, one of three signatories of the rescission motion, said the council shouldn’t be acting as a “self-appointed star chamber” and pre-empt and investigation.
“Wouldn’t it have been great if we could’ve just let this go quietly … but sadly, I feel there are certain people at council who won’t be happy until they have the heads of these two on a pike and they are parading them around the village,” she said, retracting the analogy after offence was raised.
Nick Katris, also from Labor, agreed: “By all means, if ICAC finds anybody guilty then throw the book at them and get them off council, but in this case my fear is that reputations are being destroyed.”
He also said he didn’t know why the ICAC had allowed the release of information in which the two councillors were named.
Other councillors, including Labor mayor Kevin Greene and independent councillor Sandy Grekas, opposed the rescission, with Cr Greene saying it was a matter of personal principle.
According to the ICAC letter, an investigation was prompted by two reports from the council’s general manager, Gail Connolly, in March and June 2019.
A council spokesperson previously confirmed the June report resulted from an April 2019 resolution by the council to refer allegations to the ICAC following a series of stories in the Herald, including one regarding the China trip.
Both men had absented themselves from the April 2019 vote, citing significant, non-pecuniary interests, and were also not present during the recent December 14 vote.
But they remained to debate and vote on Monday’s rescission motion, as well as the new, unanimous resolution to note the ICAC letter and investigate possible leaks to the media and general public.
Cr Hindi asked Stan Kondilios, the external lawyer hired by the council to advise them on the investigation, whether the ICAC had authorised him to release his and Cr Badalati’s names.
Mr Kondilios replied: “I might just draw the line here, your participation in this forum and engagement in debate is a matter for you …”
Cr Hindi responded that he had taken legal advice: “I know what I’m doing”.
Mr Kondilios said, “I don’t have to participate with you” adding he would not compromise the investigation.
At the beginning of the meeting, Cr Green asked anyone whether they had any conflicts of interest to declare, to which no one replied.
“It is significant … no one’s indicated that they are concerned they may have a conflict of interest,” Cr Greene said.
Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.