When reasonable people start saying “There’s something wrong with this system” and the people in power in that system say “Everything’s fine: nothing to see here!”, I get a bit jittery.
How many times have we seen the accusations of whistle-blowers summarily dismissed by powerful organisations and institutions, only for it to be revealed later that they were, in fact, accurate?
It isn’t hard to think of examples which have dominated the media lately.
So what’s happening at South Gippsland Shire Council at the moment?
It seems that the flow of information and the ability to have open debate on the upcoming budget are being restricted without apparent good reason.
The fact that councillors feel the need to use letters to the editor in order to make their positions public is an indication of their frustration at the process in council.
For the Mayor and CEO to then come out to defend the status quo is further evidence of a problem.
Perhaps it’s coincidental but just recently the Victorian Ombudsman announced an investigation into the transparency of local government decision-making.
The Ombudsman noted “Secrecy in government can create conditions in which improper conduct and poor administration can flourish. It also fuels suspicions of wrongdoing and erodes community trust”.
The power-brokers at SGSC would do well to take note and ensure that their procedures and practices are beyond reproach, and that the organisation they run is truly democratic and inclusive.
It’s certainly not looking that way at the moment.
Frank Hirst, Ranceby.