Elections NOT an administrator
Ever since last year’s release of the Ombudsman’s report into the City of Brimbank, the State Labor Government has been on notice to do something, and being a political party up for election very shortly it acted.
The Labor councillors who have been acting inappropriately on Brimbank Council deserve to be dismissed; there is no doubt about that.
However, the Minister has the power to dismiss those councillors after proper investigation. He did not have to sack the whole council.
The Local Government Act 1989 – Section 219 says that
(1) The Minister may recommend to the Governor in Council that all the Councillors of a Council be suspended, if the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds-
(a) subject to subsection (1A), that there has been a serious failure to provide good government; or
(b) that the Council has acted unlawfully in a serious respect.
Clearly there has been no unlawful act by council so the government is trying to claim that there has been a serious failure to govern.
There has not been a serious failure to govern. There are individual councillors who have been found to have acted improperly and fail to understand their responsibilities.
There is not a majority of councillors that have been found to have conducted themselves improperly or fail to understand their responsibilities.
There may be a larger number of Councillors under investigation (the report fails to name these individuals so we cannot know), but this includes Geraldine Brooks - who is being investigated on trumped up allegations.
There are problems at Brimbank and they are:
1. Councillors who fail to understand their responsibilities and councillors who have used their position for personal or factional gain
2. Councillors who do not act in the community interest- but this does not constitute a failure to govern, it means we need to vote them out at the next election
Instead of sacking those councillors found to have acted improperly the Minister is replacing elected representatives with unaccountable, unrepresentative, Labor administrators and has removed the only Green on Council, someone, who genuinely represents the community interest, and was elected precisely because of these concerns that state Labor are claiming they are dealing with.
An administrator for the next 3 years is not the solution. The Brimbank Community deserve better. They deserve to keep the councillors who were working in their interests and they deserve access to new representatives via election.
Sacking Brimbank Council is less about dealing with the problem and more about drawing attention away from the next state election which will be hard fought for the ALP.