City of Canning Council forced to pay inquiry costs

OUTGOING City of Canning Commissioners authorised payment of the outstanding $1.6 million council inquiry bill after an order from Local Government Minister Tony Simpson.

The late item, introduced and endorsed at the October 13 council meeting, came after the minister requested payment in writing.

It comes after negotiations relating to the 2012 sacking of the council. Barrister Christopher Kendall later found the council failed to provide good governance.

Canning chief executive Lyn Russell said the administration was legally obligated to fulfil the minister’s request.

“We have been having conversation with the minister about this since September last year,” she said. “We finally had a meeting earlier this week and at that meeting, we had a formal request to progress with that payment by the minister.

“On the basis of that and the legal advice we received, we are legally required to pay the amount. That was then put up to the meeting at the minister’s request.”

Ms Russell said while $1.654 million was paid in full on October 16, negotiations were still open to reduce or reverse it.

“From our research, we are aware that no other council in WA has been required to pay these costs so we are keen to negotiate and we have been now with the minister for more than a year, to basically deal with Canning in the way they have dealt with other councils under inquiries,” she said.

“We are hopeful the minister will give us some consideration.

“Even though we have paid the invoice, he has the capacity (to reverse it).”