Min­is­ter aims to pull coun­cil­lors into line

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Jes­sica War­riner

TRANS­PARENCY and tak­ing coun­cil­lors to task: Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter David Tem­ple­man has ma­jor changes in mind for Perth coun­cils.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act is un­der­go­ing its first re­view in 23 years and amidst the sus­pen­sion of the City of Perth coun­cil, Mr Tem­ple­man is separately look­ing at ac­tion to ad­dress in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lors.

“My great­est frus­tra­tion as Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter is that there’s a mech­a­nism in the Act to deal with the coun­cil when they can’t ful­fil func­tions on be­half of its ratepay­ers and res­i­dents,” he said.

“It doesn’t have a pro­vi­sion to deal with an in­di­vid­ual who might through their ac­tions, be­hav­iour, lack of un­der­stand­ing of their role or in­deed crim­i­nal ac­tion, al­leged crim­i­nal ac­tion or in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour (bring the coun­cil into dis­re­pute). There’s no ca­pac­ity to deal with that per­son in­di­vid­u­ally.”

Mr Tem­ple­man said he wanted to pur­sue leg­is­la­tion to that ef­fect as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The chal­lenge is that be­hav­iour can cul­mi­nate in poi­son­ing the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is set for a shake-up across the board, with sub­mis­sions clos­ing this week for the first phase of the Act re­view.

The phase is fo­cus­ing on ac­count­abil­ity, stan­dards and mak­ing in­for­ma­tion avail­able on­line. Com­mu­nity News re­porters fre­quently hear sug­ges­tions of record­ing meet­ings raised in coun­cil cham­bers across the city.

“You can stream most things now; it’s not big tech­nol­ogy, it’s not ex­pen­sive tech­nol­ogy,” Mr Tem­ple­man said.

“I don’t want to pre­scribe ‘you must do this’, but quite frankly I think it’s in­evitable.

“Will that im­prove trans­parency? Yes. Will it im­prove, per­haps, the be­hav­iour of some coun­cil­lors dur­ing coun­cil meet­ings? Prob­a­bly yes too.”

He said coun­cil­lors could de­flect a lot of crit­i­cism by em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy.

“If you get the mon­grel ratepayer that comes in, and they be­come to­tally fo­cused, they’re liv­ing ev­ery hour of the day, it’s what they wake up for in the morn­ing… at least if you’ve shown due process, then I think in the end those peo­ple are found out if they’re just be­ing vin­dic­tive or they have a vendetta, or their is­sue has been dealt with,” he said.

The next phase of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act re­view is set to be­gin later this year.

David Tem­ple­man

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