THE South Gippsland Shire Council has been sacked.

The State Government released the following statement this morning (Wednesday, June 19).

“The Andrews Labor Government will today introduce a Bill to dismiss the South Gippsland Shire Council following the final report from a Commission of Inquiry into the council,” the government said.

“Dismissal of a council by Parliament is only considered in the most serious cases of governance failure.

“The report of the Commission of Inquiry recommends that the Council be dismissed and that general election be held in October 2021.

“In making this recommendation the Commission of Inquiry found:

  • Continuing high levels of tension between Councillors has impacted heavily on the Council’s performance and reduced the respect for, and the standing of, the Council in the community.
  • The conflict has also had a detrimental impact on decision-making by Councillors.
  • The resignations of six Councillors has weakened the Council’s legitimacy.

“The Local Government (South Gippsland Shire Council) Bill 2019 will give ratepayers certainty around the Shire’s governance and accountability in the immediate term by appointing an interim administrator before establishing a panel of three.

“The Government will also consider other measures for the Council to implement to deliver the level of good governance rightfully expected from its ratepayers.”

Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek said: “We have accepted the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry to dismiss the Council until October 2021.”

“The dismissal of the Shire will ensure that residents, ratepayers and business of South Gippsland get a Council that functions in their best interests.”

 

Municipal Association of Victoria statement

 

“The South Gippsland community will be left without elected local representation following the Minister for Local Government’s decision to dismiss the Council,” the association said in a statement on Wednesday.

“There have been ongoing governance issues at the Shire, with a Monitor appointed by the Minister last June following a recommendation from the Local Government Inspectorate about concerns over governance procedures and practices.

“Last month the Minister initiated a Commission of Inquiry, and provided opportunity for the Council to respond to a notice outlining why it should not be dismissed.

“There have also been six councillor resignations over the past eight months.”

Cr Coral Ross, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said as a matter of principle, the dismantling of a democratically-elected government is never the optimum solution.

“However the situation at South Gippsland Shire has been difficult for some time, and has impeded the Council’s ability to work together and make decisions for and on behalf of their community.

“We seek an assurance from the Minister for Local Government that due process was followed before reaching the dismissal decision.

“We will further be requesting a briefing from the Minister on the process to ensure local democracy is returned to the South Gippsland community in a timely manner.

“Now the work begins to restore public confidence in the Council, which has many dedicated staff who do a great job providing local services, programs and infrastructure for their community.

“The MAV is committed to working with the Council to restore good governance and ensure the best outcomes for the people of South Gippsland Shire,” she said.

 

Previously…

 

THE South Gippsland Shire Council has been sacked.

The State Government has just tabled the Commission of Inquiry and Municipal Monitors reports in State Parliament.

The Commissioners have recommended to government that the Council be dismissed.

The Premier’s office and Local Government Minister’s office have also advised the Sentinel-Times this morning that the legislation to sack the council will go through the parliament quickly today.

It means that the strife-torn South Gippsland Shire Council will not meet as planned today, Wednesday, June 19 at a Public Presentation Day session.

Ironically it would have been new councillor Matthew Sherry’s first official meeting.

The Minister Adem Somyurek has long been concerned about poor governance and reports of bullying at the South Gippsland Shire Council.

When appointing the Commission of Inquiry recently he said:

“I am very concerned at what is going on at the South Gippsland Shire, the Commission – which has inquisitorial powers – will get to the bottom of it and I will table the findings in the Parliament.”

“Like the ratepayers and residents of South Gippsland, I want a stable Council that functions effectively, governs well, delivers the services the community needs and represents the area.”

It is believed the botched appointment of a CEO and Acting CEO was of particular concern to the Minister.