The gossip in Tennant Creek and the Barkly has been in overdrive this week after news broke our Mayor had been charged with drug-related offences.
The town’s flamboyant Mayor Jeff McLaughlin (42) was arrested by police around 10.15am Monday morning after a roadside test.
Police allege the Mayor returned a positive result, and searched his residence afterwards. The local coppers seized a number of cannabis plants and material from the home.
He was charged later in the afternoon with driving under the influence of drugs, supplying less than a commercial quantity of cannabis and possessing and cultivating less than traffickable amounts of the prohibited plant.
An initial call to the Barkly Regional Council CEO Emma Bradbury was unwilling to comment. “Council will be making no comment” she said.
“The charges are a private matter and unrelated to his role as Mayor so it is inappropriate for Council or Councillors to comment on the matter.”
The following day, the CEO had released that the Mayor would take personal leave.
“I wish to advise that Mayor Jeffrey McLaughlin has notified Barkly Regional Council that he will step aside from his position as Mayor and take a personal leave of absence effective 3pm this afternoon (20 September) to address a number of personal matters” she said.
“Council is supportive of the Mayor in this decision. Deputy Mayor Dianne Stokes will act in the position until further notice. Council will not be providing further comment at this time.”
The Mayor issued a statement too. “I believe that Council needs to do its utmost primary role of serving the community and its people,” he said.
“For me to continue in working as the public face of Council through this time will detract from our work.”
The pending charges do not require the Mayor to be suspended under the Local Government Act.
However, if the Mayor is convicted and it is deemed he is unfit to remain in office, it will be up to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) to decide.
This article appeared in Tennant & District Times, 23 September 2022.
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