– Ratepayers may have to cover the cost

THE Commission of Inquiry into the South Gippsland Shire Council has been extended by a further two weeks to allow for public proceedings and submissions.

The Minister for Local Government, Adem Somyurek, announced the inquiry extension today, Thursday, May 23, 2019.

“The Commission of Inquiry has requested an extension on their reporting date from May 31 to June 13, which I have granted. This will ensure the Commission has the time it requires for public submissions and a hearing,” Mr Somyurek said.

The Commission has also issued an advice, signed by its chair The Hon Frank Vincent AO QC and commissioners, that public proceedings will be held on Wednesday, June 5.

“For information about the terms of reference and how to participate in the Inquiry, including how to make written submissions and register your interest to attend public proceedings, visit https://www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au/

“The Inquiry will operate in a manner which is impartial, uncompromised, and which applies the principles of natural justice.”

The terms of reference will see the Commission look into “the behaviours of individual councillors, the process of hiring the Acting CEO, and the efficiency and effectiveness of governance arrangements in delivering services to the community”.

The Local Government Act 1989 provides the Commissioners with broad ranging powers including summoning witnesses, requiring the production of documents and full access to the council and its documents.

The Commission’s report will be tabled in Parliament.

The Inquiry into South Gippsland Shire Council established by the Minister for Local Government commenced on May 21, 2019 with sessions initially being held in Melbourne.

Three Commissioners have been appointed to conduct the Inquiry:

* The Hon Frank Vincent AO QC (Chair) pictured above right;

* Ms Julie Eisenbise; and

* Mr John Watson.

The State Government has not yet determined who will pay for the inquiry but has the power under the act to require the ratepayers of the South Gippsland Shire Council to cover the cost.

The ratepayers have already been hit with thousands of dollars in legal costs and admin costs as a result of the alleged governance breaches and councillor behaviour claims.