CITY of Canning Mayor Paul Ng has called into question councillors’ abilities to make decisions on aged care reform after low attendance at a 14-venue tour of aged and disability facilities.
The tour came ahead of the August council meeting where councillors will decide on the future of City-managed services after the Federal Government funding model change to person-centred funding.
Last Saturday , councillors Margaret Hall, Patrick Hall, Ben Kunze and David Brown joined Cr Ng and community development director Tania Trengove on a tour of City of Canning-managed aged care facilities, and independent facilities.
At last night’s council meeting, Cr Ng called it the one of the “most important decisions” council would make, lamenting the absence of elected members, saying they will be uninformed upon making a decision next month.
“Unfortunately, one elected member was very ill and had to return home resulting in only five officially attending the tour,” he said.
“Some councillors indicated they would be attending but did not attend or provide an apology.
“Based on the low attendance rate on Saturday, less than half of the elected members will have all the information to make one of the most important decisions in the term of this new council.”
Cr Ng said attending council meetings was not enough for elected members representing a community.
“All elected members will receive the same documentation in print, yet attending organised events in person to see the City’s facilities and how they operate, as well as being present for all of the discussion points, are valuable components of our work to allow us to make crucial informed decisions for this council and its constituents,” he said.
“Throughout our representation on this council, we are required to educate ourselves to the highest level possible as our decisions impact on the Canning community who rely on us to create and implement the future direction of the City.
“We have to commit to our role beyond the official monthly meetings.”
Cr Patrick Hall praised the Mayor’s decision to speak out, calling the lack of councillor commitment disheartening and called on the chief executive to publish attendance records for ratepayers.
“There has been a disheartening lack of commitment by a number of our Councillor’s and I am hopeful that the Mayor’s impassioned speech will improve attendances greatly,” he said.
“I have lobbied our new CEO to publish all meeting and briefing attendances. This move is not intended to embarrass those who choose not to attend, but rather to highlight the good work and strong commitment by those of us who do choose to attend.”
“The residents need to be able to scrutinise the performance of the councillor’s in which they entrusted their vote last October and the full disclosure of attendances will aid this accountability measure.”
In May, the City released an Aged Care and Disability Review, held public meetings and called on the public for submissions before any decision.
More than 170 public submissions were received, which pushed the original council decision back a month.
City chief executive Arthur Kyron called the response rate excellent.
Cr Margaret Hall said she was impressed by the facilities on offer in Canning and received glowing feedback from residents.
Cr Kunze said he was conscious of the review’s importance.
“I have attended all three community forums that the City has held, and in addition, I visited the Rossmoyne Retirement Village to speak to residents at a forum after receiving an invitation as their elected Bannister Ward representative,” he said.
“I am very conscious that this review is one of the most important matters that we will consider as a council, and it is vital that we understand the issues, know the facilities and speak to residents and their families in order to make a well informed decision.”
The Canning Times approached all councillors for comment; eight have replied.
Deputy Mayor Lindsay Holland said he cancelled due to illness as he boarded the bus and that he had an avid interest in the sector, noting his research with other Local Governments.
“This is one of the most important decisions I will make on council, and a decision I take seriously,” he said.
Cr Christine Cunningham said she was on approved leave at the time and had already arranged a separate tour.
Cr Jesse Jacobs, an army reservist, said he was required at a live fire exercise and would continue to remain informed and seek guidance regarding the aged care issue.
Cr Tim Porter said he was familiar with the existing service, and the review process.
“We had a lot of briefings in regards to them (and) we have even spent a lot of money to see how best we can manage the Disability Care Services so we can make informed decisions,” he said.
“The tour was pushed for by a councillor since they wanted to see the sites to assist them.”
Councillors Ayse Martli and Pauline Tarrant did not respond to requests for comment.