State Government launches inquiry into City of Melville

THE Local Government Minister David Templeman has announced an inquiry into the City of Melville.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will conduct the inquiry to explore whether there are underlying issues to the nearly 300 complaints against the City made to the Minister and the department since 2014.

Over the past 12 months, the department has been working closely with the City to improve their complaints processes and relationship with the community.

But the ongoing nature of the allegations has now prompted an inquiry.

The inquiry will examine:

• Matters related to the Council’s relationship with the City’s administration;
• The adequacy of Council policies and procedures;
• Acquisition of land; and
• Any other matters the investigative team discovers during its inquiry.

“Maintaining a strong system of local government that operates efficiently, effectively and in the best interests of the community is a priority of the McGowan Government,” Mr Templeman said.

“When complaints against a council remain unresolved over a period of time, it can be indicative of underlying issues and it is imperative that the State Government utilises its powers appropriately to intervene and investigate these matters to determine their veracity.

“This is not an accusation of wrongdoing or failure by the City of Melville, it is about ensuring improved outcomes and an improved relationship between the City and its residents.

“The Melville community deserves to have confidence in their elected members to provide good governance and services to their communities.

“I trust that the City of Melville will work co-operatively with the departmental officers authorised to undertake the inquiry, to ensure it will be completed as expeditiously as possible.”

Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said the City would not stonewall investigators.

“On meeting with the Department this morning, I confirmed they will receive full access and cooperation from the City and that we welcome the opportunity from them to inquire and report on the issues we have been trying to resolve on our own,” he said.

But Dr Silcox did argue the City had sought advice from a number of key agencies in the past, only to be let down.

“Over the last couple of years I have approached the State Government’s Parliamentary Committee, the Minister for Local Government’s office, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the Public Sector Commission, with copies of documents going to WorkSafe, trying to seek some assistance and support for resolution,” he said.

“As yet no one has been able to provide any reasonable avenues or mediation to resolve these issues, which are affecting the City’s ability to deliver a safe workplace.

“I have been extremely concerned for some time about the lack of support and lack of avenues available to the Local Government sector to deal with repetitive complainants, particularly when the health and wellbeing of employees is at risk and resources are impacted and being diverted away from the delivery of services to the community.”

Dr Silcox agreed the number of complaints to the Department corresponded “directly to the volume (the City was) also experiencing.

“It is encouraging that the State Government will now seek to understand the underlying issues,” he said.

“This is what we have been asking for.”