Rare: insight to Canning’s issues (2013)

CanningAccountability image Frankenstein

A refresher article from our vault!

Why did former Mayor Joe Delle Donne take his concerns about the administration of Canning, that kicked off the investigations, to the Minister for Local Govt?

Just how many problems at the City of Canning were issues that came under the remit of the administration, rather than the responsibility of the Mayor and Councillors?

Judge for yourself – the administration’s response to the Authorised Inquiry (Dept of Local Govt 2012 investigation)’s recommendations to address governance issues is to be found below.

First though – a reality check.

Local Govt is not recognized under the Australian Constitution.  It’s “powers” are merely extensions of the state’s, and its actions determined by parliament.

It’s why the state govt is able to exert control over local govt – in our case, keep Councillors out while merger negotiations nearly got through.  This dearth of democratic involvement in our own City was compounded by former Commissioner Reynolds and CEO Russell’s disinterest in having an Advisory Panel of Community Advisors to help guide decision-making, and the new community engagement policy taking years to emerge while council was suspended.

(More recently, the state has expressed a desire to get council spending under control, through auditing by the Auditor General – first called for by former Canning Councillor Graham Barry in 2013, getting a third-party to set rate rises, and is intending to make councils’ staffing and costs public for comparison purposes)

Somehow we’ve gotten the impression that Councillors are able to control a lot of what goes on within their local government.  But is that the case, and especially as their powers were changed under the Local Govt Act, in 2009, from “directs and controls” (the local govt area administration) to “governs”?

They don’t directly control:-

  • the day-to-day administration of the city
  • what will appear on each Council meeting agenda
  • how long staff take to deal with an issue that needs action so that a Council item can progress
  • what will or won’t be “confidential” and therefore “closed session” at council meetings – the CEO makes the recommendation, as their chief advisor
  • the hiring of staff (other than the Chief Executive Officer)
  • cheques that are issued, which can amount to millions each month
  • the construction of policy

Following the Dept of Local Govt’s inquiry in to Canning (2012), prior to the $1.6m Panel Inquiry (concluded 2014), the City of Canning’s administration released its plan to review and improve its own performance.

(6 easy read pages – page 4 is the summary table)

City of Canning Governance Review CE-006-13_-_Attachment_1 Agenda of OCM 15 Jan 2013

It looked as though a lot needed to be addressed, as at the time of our former council’s suspension.

Image released by skeeze https://pixabay.com/en/users/skeeze-272447/  Sourced at Pixabay  License CCO 1.0