WHAT was characterised by the Minister for Local Government, Adem Somyurek, as an “appalling” process for the rejection and selection of the shire CEO at South Gippsland, permanent or acting, may well be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It has led to the appointment of a Supreme Court Judge to head up a Commission of Inquiry into the “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.”
Minister Somyurek has backed off in the past week from saying the shire has “gone from bad to worse” making sacking his preferred option, to allowing the Commission to make up its own mind.
But, having brought this crisis on themselves by the CEO appointment debacle and other terrible governance failings; surely, surely, they wouldn’t try to do it again this week and next.
While the Commission will be in session in the Michael Place complex for the next eight to nine working days, the council will be up the road at the Leongatha RSL, hearing submissions into the budget, council plan and rating strategy.
Given the prospect of dismissal is hanging over the council’s head, with the Commission due to hand its report to the Minister on Friday, May 31, this could be the last chance for the Mayor Cr Don Hill and anyone stupid enough to follow him, to make a statement about his “new direction” and actually try to implement that new direction by altering the budget, council plan and rating strategy.
It is understood that those councillors amenable to making changes to the budget and rating strategy at this late stage have encouraged puppet groups and individuals in the community to make bogus submissions to this week’s open hearing so they can appear to be acquiescing to the community’s wishes when “accepting” changes.
We’ll wait and see if this easily transparent situation unfolds.
Of course, it will all be futile if the council is dismissed, as many expect they will be, because commissions are likely to revert to a “steady as she goes” approach, without radical changes to the rating strategy, for example, until after democratically elected councillors are returned.
In other words, such changes to the rating strategy and the budget as foreshadowed by Cr Hill in his Mayor’s Message this week will be purely for show: ”For too long these resources have been delivered to key areas of the Shire with the outlying areas somewhat ignored. This Council sees the need to redress this imbalance and the community needs to decide whether they want this outcome or whether they will respond to the hue and cry orchestrated by those who desire the funds to continue to be spent where they have historically been spent.”
But it’s a difficult argument to mount when you consider these projects:
• $5.4 million Mirboo North Pool refurbishment project,
• $11 million Long-Jetty at Port Welshpool
• $5.3 million Karmai
Community Children’s Centre at Korumburra, and
• $1.4 million Foster
Streetscape project.
Will our councillors finally develop minds of their own, see reason and speak out against further madness at the last minute or will they continue to be led by the nose… time will tell.