The leaking of confidential and sensitive internal documents to The Age casts serious doubts over the integrity of conduct at Bass Coast Shire Council.
Given the nature of the documents, it is entirely unlikely that this breach has not come from within Bass Coast Shire Council.
Bass Coast Shire CEO Ali Wastie should be greatly concerned at this serious breach of the Local Government Act and the Privacy and Data Protection Act.
The CEO must now act quickly to reassure community members, including councillors, that action is being taken to prevent any further breaches from occurring, and that the private and confidential information of citizens will not be further misused or made public.
In my opinion, it is imperative that the CEO quickly undertakes the following actions:
1. Refers this breach of the Acts to IBAC (Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission) and VLGI (Victorian Local Government Inspectorate).
2. Conduct a transparent internal investigation to determine who at council may have leaked this confidential information to the media.
3. Review internal privacy and data protection systems currently in place at Bass Coast Shire Council to ensure that no further breaches can occur.
4. On completion of the investigation and review;
a) Make public council’s finding and actions to be undertaken to prevent any future breaches.
b) Advise what action is being taken to hold to account the person(s) responsible for this breach.
This serious breach of the Acts comes on the eve of local government elections, and it can be reasonably expected to have a materially adverse effect on the ability of voters in Bunurong Ward make a fully informed decision when determining how to vote.
In order to allow Bunurong Ward voters (of which I am one) to make a fully informed decision when voting, I believe that it is essential that the upcoming local government election for Bass Coast Shire be postponed.
I believe that such a postponement will also allow some reasonable measure of natural justice for Cr Larke.
I have written to the Victorian Premier, the Minister for Local Government, and the Member for Bass respectfully requesting that, among other things, they postpone the upcoming local government election for Bass Coast Shire until the VLGI makes public its findings into the as yet untested and unproven allegations made against Cr Larke. Also, I have lodged a complaint with the VLGI.
Kevin Griffin, Wonthaggi.