South Gippsland Shire councillors continue to ignore ever increasing staffing levels, sky high salaries, millions in caravan parks losses (disguised and misrepresented), big expenditure on Ansevata, Bald Hills Wind Farm problems, HACC, library expenditure and much more.
Secrecy and non-transparency are rampant. Considering the blatant self-serving and self-absorptive behaviour of this council, the South Gippsland Action Group has asked important questions. We receive no answers.
We are deeply concerned with the continued habit of the CEO to rack up large legal bills. We also are concerned with the delay in answering questions by deferring them to the Audit committee when many of the questions have nothing to do with the audit committee.
Council states that they are elected to make strategic and policy decisions on behalf of the community.
They tell us that SGAG incorrectly thinks we have the right to access information about council activities that goes above and beyond that available to the rest of the community.
SGAG regards that attitude strange since the council emphatically stated in the 2017 Council Plan that they were for open and transparent governance. It appears that the council only want that when it suits themselves and do not understand what the open and transparent statement means.
Council also conveys to us that as an experienced professional I would be well aware that not all information can be made available to everyone. They release as much information as is possible in accordance with statutory requirements and commercial considerations. No kidding! Council proclaims it is always happy to respond to basic information clarification requests but not detailed investigative type requests.
They tell us they don’t believe the role of SGAG is one of a council auditor and as such it is not appropriate or within council’s resources to respond to all of our information requests.
We find that a poor excuse for an atrocious lack of transparency and as such totally unacceptable.
SGAG represents a broad range of people and often has approaches from parties who do not feel they can directly approach the council.
We also receive a lot of encouragement from the community who not always have the resources or knowledge to do that themselves. Council does not have a policy for handling complaints as most well-functioning councils do.
We are appalled that the council can continue wasting ratepayer money on the caravan parks and a number of other issues and not treat them with the required urgency – time is money – our money.
We have sought to find out where millions of dollars are accounted for and we have no answers. We are gravely concerned that this council, since it is not disclosing public information, is attempting to hide mal-administration or worse.
SGAG believes issues of Governance, Budgets, Expenditure and Control of the shire’s operations and finances are worse than ever. Governance is at an all-time low and endless pictures, warm and fuzzy articles in the press, waffle and spin cannot remedy that. Leongatha is full of empty shops, the community is suffering, rates are one of the highest in the state and this council is wasting millions of our money.
Gus Blaauw, treasurer, SGAG, Venus Bay.