BATHURST mayor Gary Rush has not ruled out defamation action over claims he used a fake online account to troll Oberon community members opposed to a forced amalgamation with Bathurst Regional Council.
Radio 2GB personality Ray Hadley used his top-rating morning show to make public the confidential findings of a code of conduct complaint filed by the Oberon Anti-Amalgamation Group against Cr Rush.
He said the review had found no breach by Cr Rush because, Mr Hadley said, “[the review] found because he was using the name Tracey Evans and not his own name, he has not violated the council’s code of conduct”.
Cr Rush has rejected the allegation and the complaint reviewer, Kath Roach from SINC Solutions, hit back against that assessment on Monday, saying her report had been misrepresented.
“I did not in any way indicate, or intend for it to be taken in any way, that Cr Rush was the troll,” Ms Roach said in a written statement to the media. “This remains unchanged and is clearly stated in detail in the full assessment and determination.”
Mr Hadley told his listeners last Thursday that Cr Rush had posted on the anti-amalgamation group’s Facebook page under the pseudonym Tracey Evans and “allegedly made a number of misleading comments ... about the Oberon community and accused one person of misappropriating $1400 worth of council funds”.
He went on to say “an independent review of Mr Rush's online behaviour [had] found because he was using the name Tracey Evans and not his own name, he has not violated the council's code of conduct”.
“But what it does tell us if in fact Cr Rush is - and I believe he is - Tracey Evans, he's got the heart of a carraway seed,” Mr Hadley said.
“You see, everything I say on this program, Cr Rush, I put my name to. Why don't you do exactly the same thing?”
Cr Rush on Monday rejected claims he had posted under the pseudonym Tracey Evans and indicated he planned to take the matter further.
He would not rule out legal action over the claims.
“I reserve my legal rights as determined by the Defamation Act and will pursue my rights under the Act to prevent people from defaming me,” he said.
Cr Rush said the attacks on him had been politically motivated.
“The real issue is based around the proposed merger between Oberon Council and Bathurst Regional Council,” he said.
“Some who oppose now base their opposition on vexatious claims and quite clearly are targeting people and personalities who have no role in determining the outcome of the proposed merger.
“I and Bathurst Regional Council have remained independent of the process and have reiterated on a number of occasions that we will accept and respect the state government's decision whatever that may be.”