Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Local Government in Tasmania is Very Broken

The cat is escaping the bag the political 'triumvirate' – politicians, public servants and media moguls – have kept it in for such a long time. Likewise, stories are getting out and there is nothing at all that is new about any of that except for the players and just what it is that they are getting away with. 

As time has passed they –  the triumvirate – have become emboldened and individually, as well as collectively, they have taken their ‘power greed’ to new levels. The purposes this ‘power’ has been applied to is sometimes mystifying but that doesn’t discount it in any way. It really gets to be worrying when their fellow travellers and personal networks start to expose themselves and posing uncomfortable questions. 

There is little doubt that in Tasmania in the 21st Century there is no justification whatsoever for 29 Councils given Tasmania’s relatively stagnant population of 500 thousand. The population is quite simply unable to provide the representative personnel with the wherewithal to be able to deliver the outcome required by the wider community and to be truly accountable. The evidence clearly points to that being so. 

The Local Government model in Tasmania is broken and it needs to be fixed and urgently. However, social media is expanding its reach to the machination of local governance issues and as the subscribers to the various forms become competent we can expect to see more and more. 

We probably can thank Donald Trump for alerting us to the ways we can bypass the dysfunctional and complicit ‘press' when it comes to whistle blowing.

THE POST "Hopefully this will bring to an early conclusion the ongoing delay I feel most Glenorchy ratepayers want to see the report in the Minister's hands and then appropriate action Ultimately we can look forward to the next scheduled Council election, while the competent Administrator gets the Council operating correctly so it can be handed over to the newly elected aldermen in good shape
Acting A-G Matthew Groom named in Supreme Court challenge to Board of Inquiry into Glenorchy City Council
Glenorchy City Council general manager Peter Brooks.Glenorchy City Council general manager Peter Brooks.
THE State Government has joined a lawsuit over the future of the Board of Inquiry into Glenorchy City Council.
The Council’s general manager Peter Brooks has taken Supreme Court action in a bid to stop the inquiry publishing a final report.
He says the Inquiry’s second Draft Report makes claims critical of his public and personal conduct.
Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE
Paul Turner, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Board of Inquiry, successfully added Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom as a party to the case after a request from the Crown.
Mr Turner said there was precedent that the State Government could become a party to the case where someone wanted to shut down the inquiry.
“The State, hence the Attorney-General, has an interest in seeing that proper justice is done,” he said.
Associate Justice Stephen Holt granted the request and adjourned the hearing until Wednesday to allow for suspended Glenorchy aldermen to make submissions.
He also said he would decide whether the information contained in the report would be heard in open court.
“The question of whether I should close this court does contain come complexities,” he said.
“If I decide that I make a suppression order it will affect people I need to hear from, the Glenorchy aldermen.
“What I want to do is send a notice to them so they will know what the application is about.”
Following the application being granted, Mr Groom said he wanted to ensure the report could be provided to Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein.
“The Acting Attorney-General is urging the Court to hear the matter as soon as possible with a view to securing the release of the Board of Inquiry’s report to the Minister for Local Government as soon as possible,” he said.
The investigation has been put on hold indefinitely and the suspended aldermen advised there was “no clear time frame for the inquiry’s conclusion” because of a further legal challenge to it in the Supreme Court.
The Mercury has been unable to confirm if the delay has been caused by Mr Brooks or whether other action was pending.
The inquiry, which began in October 2015, has been delayed several times and went to the Supreme Court last year when suspended Glenorchy alderman Jenny Branch-Allen launched legal action, arguing that the inquiry was engaged in an unfair process.
Last week the Mercury revealed some of the findings from the second Board of Inquiry report, which painted a damning picture of a dysfunctional council, a total breakdown between aldermen and senior staff and collusion among some members of the council.
Mr Brooks did not attend this morning’s hearing"

What are the signals that the system is broken?
  •  Firstly, the number of dysfunctional Councils and ‘council operations’ must be a concern for anyone interested in accountable governance – I give you Huon, Glenorchy, Spring Bay, George Town, Launceston, collectively and singularly. 
  • Secondly, General Managers applications of SECTIONS 62 & 65 of the Local Govt Act to wit, management assuming the authority of policy determination via various means not always in reflection of the Act. 
  • Thirdly, the failure of various councils to appropriately and/or adequately consult with their constituency while seemingly privileging sectional interests via Machiavellian and circuitous means. 
  • Fourthly, the abdication of aldermen/councillors in regard to playing their representational role towards meeting community needs and aspirations and especially so in regard to accountability – their own and the operational wing of councils. 
  • Fifthly, the transfer of significant ‘public assets’ into the hands of corporate and private interest without there being rigorous consultation processes being put in place to test community acceptance and/or delivering upon accountability. 
And there is more still! When a Council levies rates $500 in excess of like properties elsewhere that has to be some kind of alarm. When on apparently ‘operational initiatives’ a council puts ratepayers’ debt liabilities beyond the reach of about half of its constituency there is reason for serious concern. When expertise is deemed to exist when the evidence for it is deficient there is serious reasons for apprehension.

Clearly its time for a root and branch review of Local Govt. in Tasmania and tweaking the current Act just will not cut it.

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