Coun­cil hit by sus­pen­sion

Pilbara News - - News - Dy­lan Ca­porn and Ali­cia Per­era

The Shire of Ex­mouth coun­cil has been sus­pended for six months by the Min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment af­ter a Cor­rup­tion and Crime Com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion into claims of mis­con­duct at the Shire.

The CCC hear­ings, which were called amid ques­tions sur­round­ing an aquar­ium con­tract for the $32 mil­lion Nin­ga­loo Cen­tre, raised con­cerns the coun­cil had failed to over­see for­mer Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Price’s ac­tions prop­erly where they con­tra­vened the Shire’s code of con­duct.

Mr Price was re­moved from the chief ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion by the coun­cil last month.

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Paul Miles said the Shire’s re­sponse to a show-cause no­tice last month ask­ing why coun­cil­lors should not be sus­pended had failed to al­le­vi­ate his view they had not acted re­spon­si­bly in per­form­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment func­tions and re­quired in­ter­ven­tion.

“Noth­ing sub­mit­ted by the Shire of Ex­mouth has con­vinced me that the coun­cil should not be sus­pended and a com­mis­sioner ap­pointed,” he said.

“The ev­i­dence pro­vided by the CCC in its hear­ing tran­scripts is damn­ing in re­spect of the coun­cil’s in­abil­ity to gov­ern ef­fec­tively.

“There is a grave lack of un­der­stand­ing by the coun­cil of their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act.”

Shire pres­i­dent Turk Shales, who has been sus­pended from duty with other coun­cil mem­bers, said the case should serve as a warn­ing to other lo­cal gov­ern­ments in WA.

“This 1995 (Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment) Act is about as thick as my fist and there are a lot of is­sues in the Act that coun­cil­lors, deputy Shire pres­i­dents and Shire pres­i­dents need to be aware of,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if you make mis­takes you have to suf­fer the con­se­quences and the coun­cil it­self, be­cause it wasn’t aware of the sign­ing of this par­tic­u­lar con­tract, well we’ve been held ac­count­able as well.

“As the min­is­ter said, we need to un­dergo more train­ing.”

For­mer City of Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Fletcher has been ap­pointed as an in­terim com­mis­sioner for six months.

He said his main aim was to im­prove com­mu­nity con­fi­dence in lo­cal gov­er­nance. At the end of the six-month sus­pen­sion pe­riod, the min­is­ter will de­cide whether to re­in­state coun­cil­lors.

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