By Michael Giles
THE Commission of Inquiry into the South Gippsland Shire Council wraps up this week and it seems certain now that the council will be sacked, and administrators appointed. Which is an entirely regrettable outcome.
What was described by the Local Government Minister, Adem Somyurek, as an “appalling” CEO process last month and further shenanigans in the past few weeks, including a sham attempt at a rate reduction, should ensure that is the final outcome.
You can expect to see an announcement in the week after the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend and for the Minister to table notice in the State Parliament on one of its sitting days; June 18, 19, 20.
The case against Cr Andrew McEwen, relating to alleged misuse of position, will go ahead as scheduled at the Korumburra Magistrates’ Court on July 4, whether the council is sacked or not.
On July 11, former South Gippsland councillor Jeremy Rich is also due to appear in court, facing serious drugs charges.
When you put it all together, it’s quite incredible what our councillors have allegedly been involved in during the past two and a half years.
It’s time to rule a line off and start again. And you’ll no doubt hear the dumped councillors and a handful of their supporters in the district bleating about an assault on democracy.
But the reality is, the councillors themselves have brought this on us, not the other way around.
They’ve wasted an untold amount of money along the way and instead of concentrating on doing something positive for the community, they’ve left a trail of destruction along the way, including plenty of collateral damage in terms of staff and other councillors.
It’s also what they haven’t done in terms of advocacy and in their advisory capacity.
For example, we heard at a council meeting during the week that instead of spending upwards of 50 hours fine-tuning the annual budget, they’ve spent less than 10 hours while concentrating on responding to the Municipal Monitors; report and preparing for their appearances before the Commission of Inquiry.
No, it’s no one’s fault but the council. They’ve cost us big time, they’ve failed in their duties for the sake of personal ambition, personal interest and other private agendas.
We know who they are, the ones who’ve done the most damage, and the community should never support them again at the ballot box.