Councillor reimbursements go public

Stock image.
Stock image.

COUNCILLOR spending at the City of Canning is under the microscope, with allowances and reimbursements to be made public.

Cr Patrick Hall moved the motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting, which called for parking and travel, childcare, conferences and corporate wardrobe reimbursements to be published online.

Cr Hall said publishing the information on the City website would increase transparency and accountability.

“Elected members (councillors) are entitled to claim certain allowances and to seek reimbursement in certain circumstances, however it is also the right of ratepayers to know how the funds are expended, and the purpose and circumstances of the expenditure,’’ he said.

A list of reimbursements released to the Canning Gazette this week, showed Councillor Cr Jesse Jacobs attended the Mayoral Aviation Council Annual Conference in Melbourne this year for $4020, while Cr Yaso Ponnuthurai attended the Revitalising Town Centre and City Centres Conference in Parramatta for $3481.

Last financial year, Cr Graham Barry was reimbursed $4000 for parking and travel, and Cr Jacobs nearly $2000 for childcare.

Cr Ponnuthurai said elected councillors were entitled to one conference a year, and said they were incredibly valuable.

“Councillors need to attend and learn from other successful councils around Australia. How else we can create Canning to become a vibrant and economically strong City of choice to live in?,” she said.

“By publishing a sufficiently detailed ‘Register of Councillor Payments and Reimbursements’ on the City of Canning website, the council is publicly and voluntarily tabling a level of information which will provide our community with adequate assurance that its elected members are exercising the highest standards of probity,’’ Cr Hall said.

Cr Jacobs described the motion as a political stunt and called for the item to be deferred until after the local government elections.

“I would consider supporting it if wasn’t backdated to oct 2017 but rather implemented from oct 2019, when the new council first sits,” he said.

“And also if the administration eg directors and CEO were included as their expenses are usually no less than councillors.”

The motion was passed 8-3, with councillors Jacobs, Barry and Sara Saberi voting against it.

Canning Mayor Paul Ng supported the motion and said it was a step forward for the City.