Council hit by suspension
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.