Mayor backs reform

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

City of Vincent Mayor John Carey put forward a motion calling for transparency at the recent WA Local Government Association (WALGA) general meeting but it was overwhelmingly defeated.

After a week of public scrutiny over Federal politicians� allowances, Mr Carey requested on behalf of the City of Vincent that WALGA advocate for reforms that would enhance local government transparency and accountability.

Mr Carey said he was angry that so many council representatives voted against the motion in the secret ballot.

�I�m angry on behalf of ratepayers because I think it is a failure by the sector to realise reform is needed,� he said.

�I think it was deeply disappointing that the sector would not even embrace a discussion; they shut down the debate, they said �no we don�t even want to discuss this�.

�My point to the whole sector is if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.�

Mr Carey said he had support from representatives of the cities of Stirling, Fremantle and Gosnells and towns of Bassendean and Victoria Park.

Dr Pettitt said local government was already the most transparent level of government in Australia.

�You only have to compare a Fremantle council planning meeting with equivalent deliberations at the WA Planning Commission, for example, to see how transparent we are with public question time, published agendas and the public present for deliberations,� he said.

�That said, I still think there is room for local government to continue to show leadership in the area.

�I think there is value in uniform systems across local governments and that is one of the reasons I have supported the direction of John Carey�s motion.

�I hope the next step will be that supportive councils can establish a joint working group � to pursue a set of reforms that we can introduce now as a model for progressive local governments.�

Dr Pettitt said elements like an online gift and travel register for all councils were �low hanging fruit�.

Mr Carey said he would write to the local governments that expressed their support for the motion to work on a shared vision for greater transparency and accountability.