A SIGNIFICANT loose-end remains to be unpicked after the dismissal, by the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek, of the South Gippsland Shire Council.
And it’s an issue that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon, especially given the ratepayers of the shire spent upwards of $65,000 producing it.
It’s the sacked council’s response to the Minister’s show-cause notice which, as yet, has not been released, as earlier promised by Mr Somyurek, who is relying on a technicality, that the response was not ratified by council.
At the August 28 council meeting, Local Government watcher, John McCombe, addressed the new administrators on the subject and was far from happy with their response.
He said the Minister had directed him to ask the council about the report, but they were now passing the buck back to the Minister or deferring to Freedom of Information.
“If as Minister Somyurek states, the show cause response document was not correctly processed, was the processing error the result of a mistake (or omission) in the advice given, or not given, to the elected Councillors by those staff members in the administration considered experts in this area or was it the result of faulty advise from the legal firm they consulted? Is there any compelling reason why the ratepayers should be precluded from seeing the defence case?
The Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) read out this response: There were no submissions made by ‘the Council’ to the Minister for Local Government. For a submission to be made by Council, it would have required a report to and resolution of Council. As a consequence, any submissions made to the Minister are made by individuals or multiple persons and release of the information would likely be problematic under State and Federal privacy legislation. This being the case, it is likely a matter that would need to be considered by way of application under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Some argy-bargy followed between Mr McCombe and the chair, Ms Eisenbise who said the question had been asked and answered multiple times… but not resolved.
Both sides in this debate are united in the belief that the council report, authorised or not, should be released.