City of Perth council agrees terms for $500,000 audit

NEW Premier Mark McGowan has called on the City of Perth to abandon its planned $500,000 audit.

Last Wednesday, Mr McGowan reiterated his intention to dismiss the council, and described the City’s pursuit of the audit as “strange”.

“They understand the attitude of the government towards them,” he said. “I would urge them not to waste any money on things trying to justify their position; I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

When Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi announced on Friday, March 18 that Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu would be conducting the audit, she said it was being undertaken “to assure any concerned ratepayers out there that the City of Perth is operating well”.

Asked if this comment may have given the Premier the impression the audit would be a whitewash, the Lord Mayor did not answer the question directly, instead telling Guardian Express that the audit “was approved by an absolute majority of council on October 11” and “council endorsing the terms of reference was simply a development in the process which got under way over five months ago”.

At the special council meeting held last Tuesday to determine terms of reference for the audit, Councillor Reece Harley took issue with the Lord Mayor’s characterisation of the audit as “assuring… ratepayers that the City is operating well”.

Cr Harley stressed the audit was to be an independent investigation to identify problems and recommend solutions, and should not be based on the preconceived notion there were no problems at the City, noting there were areas at the City that had room for improvement.

In response to Mr McGowan’s suggestion the City abandon the audit, Perth chief executive Martin Mileham said it would “deliver the independent and robust platform to enable the administration to deliver best practice”.

“It will ensure that the standards adhered to by the City of Perth as a local government entity, will deliver best value for the ratepayer dollar and above all, facilitate good government,” he said.

The findings are due in May.