Brimbank Council Sacked
The individual Labor councillors who have been acting inappropriately deserve to be sacked, there is no doubt about that.
They have demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of their responsibilities and a disregard for acting in the community interest. Bill Scales highlights a few examples in his report, but there are many that he could have outlined that undoubtedly add up to a whole picture of improper conduct.
That said, I am very concerned that the whole thing is a diversion and not a solution.
I think it is suspicious that the administrator's term will extend beyond the November 2010 state election right through to 2012.
It allows the state government to sweep it all under the carpet and hope that the electorate will forget the corruption and neglect when it comes to the state election next year and the next local election.
Replacing elected representatives with unaccountable, unrepresentative, Labor appointed administrators will not help local democracy and I see a potential conflict of interest in a process where the person who recommends the dismissal of council gets the job of administrator in a process that has no public review.
Sunshine Council has been sacked twice already in recent history and it has done nothing to improve the outlook for our residents.
Sunshine still has the highest rate of unemployment, poor public transport, very high rates of diabetes, obesity and mental illness and our representatives are doing nothing to tackle these concerns.
It is very worrying that the community will now not have access to elected representation for the next 3 years. How is the community going to find out about how the council is spending its money, how are the decisions about a civic centre, Sunvale Primary School and major developments like Metro West going to go ahead without proper scrutiny and transparency? How will the community challenge decisions it disagrees with? How is it going to have a say? Administrators do not have to face election from the people if their decisions are not in their best interests.
Sacking Brimbank Council is more about drawing attention away from the fact that this Labor government has done nothing about dealing with corruption in its ranks, and nothing about the real source of inappropriate behaviour - senior labor figures. Where is the monitoring of their contact with councillors, where is the detailed review of MPs code of conduct? Where is the examination of undue influence of developers on MPs?
Residents are sick and tired of being neglected by their Labor representatives at all levels – not just on council.
Our community finally had someone who genuinely represented their interests (in Miles Dymott and now myself) and now that has been taken away.
In my first 9 months on Council I put forward motions on issues ranging from the budget, meeting transparency measures, abandoning the civic centre project in favour of parks, a commercial gaming venue rate increase, support for a container deposit scheme, condemnation of the urban growth boundary extension, opposed the development assessment committees, opposed the defunding of reconciliation Victoria, support for a net solar feed in tariff , and support for community consultation over a range of important local emerging issues. In most cases the vote in the chamber has been 10 against 1 - I'm the one!
This seems to demonstrate an unwillingness to support anything I put forward on its merits despite it being in the interests of our community. Yet the report utterly fails to report on this.
ALP rules indicate that even councillors who are not endorsed candidates but who are ALP members are required not to vote against ALP policy.
This appears to be in direct conflict with the oath sworn by councillors says they will act impartially and in the best interests of their community.
Greens councillors like me sign a greens councillors code of conduct that specifically directs us to act in the community interest even where it conflicts with greens policy.
I supported the Municipal Inspector and was really glad of the level of scrutiny his presence brought to Brimbank but it appears Labor doesn’t want to fix the problems they just want them to go away. I wish the report had named names and recommended suspending or sacking the named councillors - that would have been a more open process and would have been a sobering message to the remaining councillors. The Minister could have sacked those individual councillors found to have acted improperly.
Bill Scales promised to attend a community meeting in Sunshine on the 26th October that I organised to discuss what he has been doing to oversee the implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations.
Now more than ever, he needs to honour that agreement and discuss the important concerns that our community has about the transparency and accountability of the new council administration.