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Speaking as long-term observer of Canning Council:
OK, to get the current councillor stuff out-of-the-way, sitting Beeliar Cllr Brown points to several things:
- that the current council has worked hard to return the city to responsible financial management. It should be noted Canning’s staff salaries shot to shocking levels when democratic governance was removed (Canning has been investigated multiple times). If I recall correctly, by 2015, our City’s budget was around $100m and $58m of that was salaries alone – leaving $42m left to spend on everything else. Any return of council was going to see this outrageous situation brought under control, but having said that, our latest budget whacked up the money spent on events funding by another third of a million, while our shockingly low tree numbers fall farther behind (one of the largest councils in Perth, we have the third lowest canopy). Responsible management is a contestable descriptor….
- Mr Brown points out he has undergone governance training, in order to be an effective councillor. Ratepayers fund each Elected Member around $8000 every two years to do so, so I’m glad to see this option has been taken up.
- Brown’s selection for various committees, with respect to himself, is not merit based. Politics and personalities increasingly play a part in who lives and who dies by committee membership. As for Mr Brown’s role as CEO Performance and Salary Review panel member, the way the CEO’s evaluation panned out this year, as with how it was arrived at last year, has not gone down well with the rest of Council and it is difficult to understand why.
Mr Brown was responsible for the Council finally authorising audio recordings of council meetings be made available to the public. Transparency and accountability waxes and wanes in priority under the current council, however – this action took two years to happen.
No surprise – Brown supports the Willetton Basketball Stadium’s wish for an expanded stadium. It would be nice to hear that a needs analysis of all sports clubs across Canning was undertaken – that the Council required it, and that a fair and balanced prioritisation of who needed what was drawn up first before millions are doled out to just one entity. I spoke with the CEO of Canning recently and it would appear that finally this may be closer to happening.
What does stand out in Brown’s goals for Canning is his desire that ratepayers participate in budget allocations and rate setting. Canning’s budgetary processes are far from transparent and we can learn a lot from other councils in Perth, who release the budget detailing to the community for feedback prior to adopting it formally. I hope Mr Brown wastes no time in championing this occur at the City of Canning.
Finally, it should be remembered that Mr Brown is part of the first Council allowed at Canning since it was put under administration by the state govt. Despite promising good governance, this Council has not required the administration act on critical Inquiry recommendations such as ensuring strategic briefings (held behind closed doors) are comprehensively minuted and audio or videotaped for future reference – which could include any further investigations in to Canning (which has been investigated, its councils of the day suspended and dismissed twice now). Only a beefing up of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct occurred, which is, I suspect, not enforceable.
Over to you, Mr Brown. Canning will continue to limp along, awaiting another fall, failing to inspire others, if bold and confident changes aren’t made!
(And please put up a Councillor Facebook – let’s see and hear you more)