I recently asked for but was denied access to any information regarding the number of senior officers employed at the Bass Coast Shire and their remuneration brackets. Such secrecy about information that should be readily available is unacceptable.
I didn’t request the name of any individual employee, only the number employed and their remuneration brackets.
Last year I asked for and was provided with a list of senior officers employed in Bass Coast. The information provided showed that the number of senior officers employed had ballooned out from nine to 14 over the past three years resulting in a dramatic increase in the cost of senior officers in Bass Coast.
Last year, their remuneration brackets ranged from $130,000 to more than $300,000 per annum.
Senior officers are rated as those in remuneration brackets exceeding $100,000 per year and last year all 14 senior officers actually exceeded remuneration bracket levels of $140,000 per annum.
These 14 senior officers cost Bass Coast rate payers millions of dollars each year, so thought I would again obtain the information to see how much the cost of employing them had increased over the past 12 months and if any new ones had joined the $140,000-plus list.
To my amazement, my request was denied totally with the lame excuse that “councils no longer have an obligation to maintain a Senior Officers Register”.
They don’t need to maintain a register to provide the information I requested. They know full well how many are being paid more than $100,000 per annum. Even without the need to compulsorily keep a register, it is still only reasonable that ratepayers know what the total cost of employing these people is and how many of them there are.
What are they hiding? Without doubt, the cost of employing each of these senior officers has increased considerably over the past 12 months and it would also be informative to know if their numbers have increased.
Following the first refusal I then requested to be informed of one straightforward question: How many senior officers are employed at a cost exceeding $100,000 per annum and again my request was denied point blank.
Again I did not request their name or even individual remuneration brackets, only how many there are, but again this request was refused.
What are they hiding? What are they covering up?
This level of secrecy is clearly unacceptable and puts this Council in a league of its own regarding cover up and secrecy.
On this issue there is no transparency, accountability or probity in Bass Coast. On this issue, Council has become a secret society.
Clearly anticipating that I would go public regarding this lack of transparency, they informed me that one of these officers, reporting directly to the CEO, would be reducing down to half time duties from August of this year. Big deal!
Is this one of the many senior officers employed by Bass Coast but who do not live anywhere near the municipality? Is this one of the many officers and staff who travel long distances to work here each day in a ratepayer provided car using vast quantities of ratepayer funded fuel?
It is absolutely unacceptable that the level of secrecy and lack of transparency in place with the present Council keeps such information secret.
They are without question the worst ever Council in the history of the shire and they are officially rated the worst Council in Victoria and we can now add to the list that they are the most secretive Council ever in the history of local government in this area.
And the Council is clearly on track for an electoral wipe out.
They closed the rubbish tip on Phillip Island and now propose to close the tip at Inverloch. They are closing the Tourist Information Centre in Wonthaggi, yet still use outrageously expensive consultants.
They say they consult and then ignore the clearly expressed view of the community.
The way Phillip Island has suffered under this Council is well understood by most people.
The clear message for Bass Coast residents and ratepayers is that the solution is in your hands. In less than three months’ time you will be asked to vote to elect new councillors for the next four years. Find out who your sitting councillor is, and when you vote, put them last.
Alan Brown, Wattlebank.