Suspend us now, says councillor

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council should be suspended while an inquiry in its operations takes place, Cr Aaron Brown believes.
The State Government last Thursday announced a Commission of Inquiry before it had received council’s response to a show-cause notice, demanding council state why it should not be sacked.
Council’s hasty appointment of acting CEO Bryan Sword last Wednesday – reportedly spending just one hour reviewing candidates’ resumes – was the final straw for Victorian Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek.
The commission will look at the process of hiring a CEO, the stability of the council, councillors’ behaviour, governance and delivery of services.
South Gippslanders have already endured some 10 months with municipal monitor Peter Stephenson watching over council, and he recommended council be dismissed and an administrator appointed.
Cr Brown said the process of choosing an acting CEO was “disgraceful and rushed”, given the CEO is in charge of council property worth $500 million and 270 fulltime equivalent staff.
“It is important the inquiry is held as soon as possible so action can be taken to hold people to account and resolve problems presently facing the South Gippsland Shire Council,” he said.
The minister gave council extra time to respond to his show-cause notice, but council also used the time to appoint an acting CEO.
Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said he raised his concerns about council’s governance with the minister “in the strongest possible terms”.
“The people of South Gippsland Shire deserve a resolution to this debacle as quickly as possible and the minister should not hesitate to act decisively,” he said.
“If the evidence suggests that the council should be dismissed, then he will not be opposed by me.”
Mayor Cr Don Hill said the inquiry would force people who have been making false claims against councillors “to front up with evidence of their claims which will be tested in a proper legal framework”.
“Importantly, we will also be allowed to refute such claims with evidence which to date has not been able to be given since no one would lodge a claim to have it tested in a proper process,” he said.
The inquiry was announced a day after council appointed council director Mr Sword as acting CEO for 12 months after a quick recruitment process.
Mr Somyurek said the inquiry would be over in weeks and was prompted by the situation at council going “from bad to worse” after the appointment of an acting CEO.
Council appointed an acting CEO to finalise the dismissal of current CEO Tim Tamlin before the minister had a chance to sack council.
“Like the ratepayers and residents of South Gippsland, I want a stable council that functions effectively, governs well, delivers the services the community needs and represents the area,” the minister said.
The inquiry could summon witnesses, require documents to be produced, and give access to council and its documents. Suspending the council is still under consideration.
Council’s response included a pledge to implement a good governance plan, but council voted to remove original references to re-endorsing the mayor and not receiving formal bullying complaints.
Cr Brown felt this was to avoid discussion of those issues. He said the inquiry would enable the public to learn of the events leading to the appointment of an acting CEO.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=28637

Posted by on May 14 2019. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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