On developments from the Ombudsman’s report
Council has had its first meeting with the municipal inspector Bill Scales (who is currently also Chair of the Port of Melbourne Corporation and Chancellor of Swinburne University). This meeting was held on Tuesday night following the planning meeting. Bill seems to be personable and capable, but still too close to the ALP and its interests. I suspect he confuse the pressure to quietening things down for Labor and restoring good governance, such is the culture of the place. Watch this space.
We have another meeting with Alison Lyons and Rob Spence from the MAV tonight which I imagine will focus on the issues we would like to air concerning governance and up skilling of councillors. I must say I am interested in having full and frank discussions about democratic process, the ethical and moral responsibilities councillors should feel as elected representatives, the importance of genuine representation of our community and the place of factions. Let’s see how we go!
A lot of the local press has been transfixed on the Ombudsman’s report; almost all of it is in calling for the sacking of the Council. My predecessor Miles Dymott and I have been the only ones fighting this self-interested behaviour of the Labor Party – but this is hardly recognised by the papers as newsworthy. Genuine informed debate to redefine elected representation in our region is still lacking, as is analysis of the depth of rot in Council’s governance structures. Although I was heartened to see one letter stating there is one councillor who is not corrupt!
I’m looking to outline again what it has meant to have a Green on Council. Miles achieved many things in his term on Council including consistently standing up to the abusive behaviour of the ruling faction towards both him and toward the community. For our community Miles fought successfully to restore funding to Sunshine’s pool redevelopment, our parks and our bike paths. He championed the redesign of the Sunshine shopping precinct and has always defended environmental initiatives, local environment groups, community groups and sporting groups.
The pair of us work consistently to oppose inappropriate housing development, to support policy and strategy that promotes a more democratic, healthy and environmentally sustainable outcomes for the Brimbank community. We hope many others will continue to join us in the coming months.
The Ombudsman’s Report – analysis in brief
· The Government dodged and weaved (before, during and after the release of the Ombudsman’s report) until it was impossible not to finally take the appropriate action. The continued reluctance to face the electorate speaks volumes.
· Whilst I welcome the report – which exposes the underbelly of Brimbank Councillors and the Labor MPs who have been exposed as their puppeteers – it is limited by a narrow terms of reference.
· In light of what has been inflicted on the community – by greed, ambition and factional in-fighting – the recommendations do not go far enough.
· None of the recommendations will trigger a culture change. That is what Brimbank Council needs. A complete clean slate and a shared understanding of what their role as Council are.
· The Brumby Government needs to restore democracy in the western suburbs. And I am under no illusion that this is an isolated case. Other Councils, documented in Hansard, have been either in need of scrutiny or have been scrutinised in the past: Glen Eira, Geelong, Banyule.