CONTROVERSIAL Warrnambool City councillor Peter Hulin will be absent from the council table for two months for breaching confidentiality.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that Cr Hulin's recording of a closed-door meeting about the sale of land in Allansford constituted serious misconduct.
Cr Hulin will be forced to take a two-month leave of absence and cannot carry out any councillor duties during that time.
It is the councillor's second breach of confidentiality during his stint on council in 2009, Cr Hulin released confidential information to The Standard regarding the tender process of the foreshore pavilion.
In that instance, he was reprimanded by the councillor conduct panel, and ordered to apologise to council, undertake media training and be mentored for 12 months.
But Cr Hulin remained unrepentant yesterday, saying he had stayed true to his moral code and that he had been vindicated by the state government's appointment of a probity officer to oversee the council's land deals.
"Both Cr Jennifer Lowe and myself were placed in an invidious position due to the lack of proper process in relation to the sale of the Allansford industrial land," Cr Hulin said.
"My parents instilled in me a strong belief in one's honesty and integrity.
"I was not prepared to compromise these values to accommodate the process council was following.
"I was not happy with what I was forced to do, but I was forced to do that or I had to sell out my principles.
"My actions have been vindicated because now they have a probity officer the government has imposed a watchdog to watch over the way they're running this."
Cr Hulin described the investigation as "a joke" and "a witch-hunt", and said the two-month enforced leave of absence was "a holiday".
"This witch-hunt was an obscene waste of ratepayers' money," he said.
"I was not prepared to allow these councillors to waste even more money.
"This is why I have agreed to these conditions. But you have to understand that after how much money they've spent, the punishment is what you would get if you had gone overseas. It's a holiday. I still get paid as a councillor, I just can't represent council. It's not a punishment."
Cr Hulin said the current perceived voting division between himself and Cr Lowe meant his absence would not have an impact on council.
"With the 5-2 split, it doesn't matter what I say they vote against any commonsense I come up with anyway," he said.
While he won't be able to sit at the council table, Cr Hulin said he would still attend council meetings and intended to sit "in the front row" of the public gallery.
Mayor Jacinta Ermacora said Cr Hulin had the right to disagree with the decisions of council, but that did not give him the right to break the law.
"Respecting confidentiality is a fundamental principle of good business and good governance," Cr Ermacora said.
"It is particularly important to council, as the organisation holds a great deal of private information, ranging from health records and personal financial records to details of proposed major developments.
"The Local Government Act sets out the laws under which council must conduct its business and it is not for Cr Hulin to pick and choose which parts of these laws he wishes to comply with.
"Of course there are times when Cr Hulin will not agree with the decisions of council. That is his right and it is democracy. But that does not justify breaching the law."
The Standard understands that each party was ordered to pay its own costs.