Councillor’s letter to Minister Castrilli prompts questions about who governs what?

Councillor Megan O’Donnell was recently forced to go public in The West Australian, in an attempt to get answers on the immediate future for City of Canning’s Council and its residents.

  • why has the Shire of Ashburton, despite the discovery of serious probity issues resulting in the dismissal of its CEO, only been suspended for 6 months while governance training is undertaken, when no clear path or timeline has been determined for the return of the City of Canning Council?
  • why is Canning required to undergo a second investigation?
  • when will it commence?

In the time of the Barnett Govt, a third local govt (Shire of Cue) was suspended, with a Commissioner appointed.  It appears only Canning is required to undergo a series of inquiries.

A Commissioner can be in place for up to 2 years.  However, with Canning’s population approximately 92,000, it is difficult to see how one person can effectively represent so many for long.

You may be interested to hear the views of Troy Pickard, President of WA Local Govt Assocation, on the issue:

  • most residents won’t be affected if a Commissioner is appointed temporarily
  • the downside:  “people…did not have an avenue to engage via an elected body”
  • the upside:  “commissioner… will be able to ensure the city has appropriate structures in place and the issues the council has had are not repeated”
  • the [task of replacing an 11 person Council with a Commissioner] is not too much for one person, “Its probably easier to do with one person”.

The last comment is interesting, as  Mr Pickard is also the Mayor of one of our largest councils, Joondalup.

What has not been clear throughout much of the Barnett Govt’s moves to suspend councils is where responsibility for the running of a council area ultimately lies, and why Councillors make the decisions they do.

Minister Castrilli’s trail of council suspensions is lengthening, at a time when it needs the confidence of voters for the next election.

Open up council inquiries to the public, Mr Castrilli, and ensure the natural justice submissions of councillors are able to be seen in full by their residents.


As the year ends, I’ll leave the final comment to Councillor O’Donnell, “I [made] my decisions at council meetings on the information provided by officers and from listening to and consulting my community. It’s called democracy”.

Maze (미로)
Maze (미로) (Photo credit: golbenge (골뱅이)) CC ShareAlike Flickr