THE mayor of Port Stephens, Cr Bruce MacKenzie, has filed for defamation againstfellow CrGeoff Dingle in the NSW Supreme Court.

The two have been fierce rivals over numerous terms of council.

Cr Dingle even came within 899 votesof seizing the top job of mayor from Cr MacKenzie in 2012.

The Examiner understands the grievance relates to an email Cr Dingle sent a Dungog councillor before Cr MacKenzie was scheduled to have a meeting about a potential merger.

It was reported after the meeting that Cr MacKenzie was among a small delegation fromPort Stephens Councilnot well received by Dungog councillors.

A Port Stephens-Dungog merger has been under review as part of a statewide reduction in the number of councils.The state government has previously said it would await the findings of the independent delegates as to the proposed options.

Delegate Peter Peppin’s findings have not yet been released.

Cr MacKenzie’s grievancewith Cr Dinglecould also triggera code of conduct investigation within Port Stephens Council.

The code prohibits the use ofcouncilcomputer resources tocommunicate any material of an offensive, obscene, threatening, abusive or defamatory nature.

“Council does not comment on code of conduct matters,” a spokesman for the council said.

“Dealings between the staff of Port Stephens and Dungog Shire Councils with regard to the proposed merging of the two organisations have been open, constructive, and predominately positive in nature.”

The matter is listed for August 19,Supreme Court Sydney, before Justice Lucy McCallum. Cr Dingle declined to comment.

Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie.

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