NO ONE’S all that happy about what’s taken place at the Bass Coast Shire Council, in the run-up to the start of voting next Tuesday, October 6, when the ballot papers start arriving in the post.
But if they’re talking, they’re not saying much.
The Sentinel-Times contacted the new Local Government Minister, The Hon Shaun Leane, handed a poisoned challis recently by former Upper House colleague, Adem Somyurek.
But the former electrician wasn’t prepared to get his wires crossed on this one.
“The Local Government Inspectorate is an independent body and the government has no role to play in its operations,” he is alleged to have said.
Although that’s a departmental response if there ever was one.
Hardly likely to pass the pub test or go down too well at an Electrical Trade Union meeting.
“Cut the crap, Leanie!” you could almost hear them say if you tried that on at a construction site.
“The Local Government Inspectorate has indicated that it is investigating a complaint relating to the Bass Coast Shire Council. Any questions should be directed to the Inspectorate,” was the additional “background” provided.
We put the Minister’s comments to the Inspectorate, who were a little more forthcoming, promising an update later in the week.
“The LGI doesn’t make recommendations on postponement of elections,” they said as a preliminary.
Presumably that’s the responsibility of the Minister.
The local Member for Bass, Jordan Crugnale, was no more forthcoming.
You’d think Ms Crugnale would be uniquely placed, as a former Mayor of Bass Coast, still with firm friends on the council. But no.
“I understand the Premier’s media team have responded – I don’t have any further comment.”
You couldn’t fault the accuracy of that statement.
It was left to the Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Edward O’Donohue, to take a free swipe at the ball.
“The Victorian integrity bodies have been pleading with the Andrews Labor Government for years to be properly resourced so that they can undertake timely investigations when allegations such as these are made,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“It is a disgrace that as a result of chronic under funding by Daniel Andrews, our integrity regime is compromised, delaying investigations and casting a cloud over the imminent local government elections.”
Melina Bath, the Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria played a reasonably straight bat.
“Ultimately, we need to allow the Inspectorate to do their work and report their recommendations to government, but it’s always been ‘innocent until proven guilty’ so we should wait for the outcome,” Ms Bath said.
The MP noted that if the Inspectorate did find any wrongdoing, there was a mechanism in place for replacing a successful candidate without the need to go back to the polls.
Reading between the lines, though, the election will go ahead but what impact the leaking of allegations surrounding Cr Les Larke, a candidate in Bunurong Ward, will have on his chances is anyone’s guess.