Andrew has been a councillor at South Gippsland Shire for seven years. He has been an active councillor initiating a range of activities including, introducing more transparency and accountability measures, stronger community consultation and involvement, improving the efficiency in service provision and developing a social infrastructure plan for the shire. He has advocated strongly for fairness in the distribution of discretionary monies to communities. He has been active in the community on a wide range of groups and issues, regularly attending over 12 community organisations meetings a month.
During his time on council he has made over 400 representations for individuals and organisations. He has been successful in achieving over 60% of his electoral promises.
As part of his duties, he was approached by an individual involved in a complaint regarding wind farm noises. The individual received an email from the CEO of the Council in his letter box that referred to an attached fact sheet. The individual sought a copy of the fact sheet from Andrew. By mistake Andrew sent the email and was subsequently charged (surprisingly) under a serious part of the act about abuse of his position. This is normally used for serious charges of receiving bribes or corrupt behaviour for personal or the benefit of others. If convicted it would have barred him for standing for council again for 8 years.
The email WAS NOT CONFIDENTIAL, and as the presiding magistrate at Andrew’s court case said: “the email essentially does not reveal a great deal more than the parties would have already known”. The matter was relatively minor and belies the seriousness of the charge.
Andrew has a long history of community service, which the magistrate acknowledged: “Mr McEwen is a community minded person with an exemplary history…his character references were glowing in terms of his contribution to the community”.
Andrew was found guilty, but importantly NOT CONVICTED and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond. He has to pay $1,500 to the local hospital and costs of $15,000. As Andrew is on the aged pension he is in a situation to pay the fine and $5,000 of the costs - leaving a shortfall of $8,500.
Andrew was not in a position to fight the case even though he may well have won it, as it would have cost an additional $60,000 dollars which he does not have. By pleading guilty he is allowed to run for council and complete his service to the community by making council more transparent and accountable, by working more strongly in partnership with communities, and reducing the very high rates.
I started this GoFundMe page as Andrew has always given tirelessly to his community and has been generous in helping others.
Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
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- Vanessa North
- Gregory Phillips
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