I refer to the Minutes of the South Gippsland Shire Council Meeting No. 456 of April 21, 2021 – Item 4.2 Audit and Risk Committee Meeting Minutes dated March 8, 2021.

Matters raised in relation to the following extracts are of great concern and raise a number of questions that we as ratepayers and residents have a right to receive answers to.

The manner in which the Audit & Risk Committee limits official records by “verbals” is very strange. For council employees, paid for and employed to service ratepayers and residents, to provide verbal reports “in-camera” (by the acting CEO) related to Fiduciary Responsibilities, and “verbal updates” (by the manager governance) related to Fraud, Corrupt Conduct, or Possible Illegal Acts is a very serious matter.

I also refer to the Proposed Budget 2021-22, page 46, item 4.2.1 Assets and I quote:

“Cash and cash equivalents include cash and investments such as cash held in the bank and in petty cash and the value of investments in deposits or other highly liquid investments with short term maturities. These balances are projected to decrease by $9.3 million during the year, primarily reflecting a challenging capital works program in 2021/22. Other financial assets represent deposits held with long term maturities (<90 days) and these are projected to reduce by $4.0 million as a result of overall lower cash assets at 30 June.”

Seriously? Honestly? This “note” takes the place of actual published, dedicated $ amounts. In an important $ budget paper! This does not really surprise me because the Cash Reserves at June 30, 2020 were $38.8 million. I calculate that at June 30, 2021 this will have reduced to $26.6m and $13.3m in the Proposed Budget 2021/22.

This reduction of cash of $25.5 million must be difficult, if not impossible to explain, and to not provide actual $ amounts is very much in character of no ‘openness and no transparency’.

Four FOI requests related to the Karmai Childcare Construction Contract are refused to be processed for bizarre reasons. This must be properly investigated (externally), and it is just a matter of time before this eventuates. This will not go away and may well increase to six FOI requests or more. At some time in the future, I will keep you informed.

Gus Blaauw, Venus Bay.