The Andrews Labor Government has introduced a Bill to dismiss the Central Goldfields Shire Council.
Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins said the decision was made in response to last week’s damning report by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.
The independent report found a range of serious failures at the Council including:
- Asset and financial mismanagement
- Human resource mismanagement
- A range of governance failures
- An ineffective policy framework
- Issues with the Council’s audit committee
The Inspectorate found a lack of transparency and a disregard for legislative requirements in the sale of council land, which resulted in a significant loss of public funds – estimated to be over $730,000.
The Inspectorate also found a significant amount of government grant funding could not be accounted for, that Council employees were providing private contracting services to the Council on weekends, and poor management of staff performance reviews.
Dismissal of a council by Parliament is only considered in the most serious cases of governance failure.
The Inspectorate’s report is further evidence of serious governance failures at the Council after a municipal monitor’s report in December last year also identified areas of major governance concern at the Council.
An interim administrator will be appointed shortly, before ongoing administrators are appointed to perform the roles and functions of the Council until elections are held in October 2020.
The Government will provide $150,000 over three years to fund a program that will target future leaders in Central Goldfields. It has also asked the Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership to hold a mini regional assembly over the next few months in the area, to help build a more resilient community.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins
“We have not taken this decision lightly. Dismissing a council is a significant step, and is the result of extensive and disturbing mismanagement by Council over many years.”
“The Central Goldfields Shire Council has let down local residents and businesses, and lost its right to govern on their behalf.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford
"The Andrews Labor Government is committed to building stronger regional communities and will work with the Central Goldfields' community to ensure they have strong leadership well into the future."
Reviewed 19 August 2020