Yet another Council has just been suspended. A third is under review.
Again “the need for training”, as relates to Councillors, is offered up as the problem and the solution to management issues at the local government level.
But is the situation that simple?
The City of Canning inquiry was sparked by Mayor Delle Donne asking the State to investigate “matters associated with staffing issues and administration”, resulting in the Council’s suspension.
In November the Shire of Ashburton dismissed its Chief Executive Officer, following serious issues arising from a probity audit. Three weeks later the Council was suspended.
And last week the Shire of Kalamunda dismissed its CEO on receipt of the findings of an independent forensic audit, followed almost immediately by the Shire’s President’s resignation.
Minister for Local Government, John Castrilli, expressed concern at the situation, and is seeking advice from the Dept of Local Government.
Another inquiry, followed by suspension, on the way? Residents immediately went online to demand “full disclosure”.
They may battle to get it. Not only are inquiries in to Councils held behind closed doors, the evidence submitted by Councillors isn’t being published in full.
The Opposition has renewed its call for a review of all local governments, and Shadow Minister for Local Government, and former Mayor of Vincent, John Hyde has been more specific: address the problem of relationships between chief executive officers and elected members.
“Until you address the core problem about the relationship between elected members and employees under the CEO, you’re going to keep having these problems occurring.”
However, as the confirmed and possible suspensions pile up, the Minister says he is “concerned by developments but is comfortable current processes are sufficient to pick up any anomalies”.
To be continued?