Former Wyong Mayor, Mr Doug Eaton, if elected to represent the Wyong Ward in the new Central Coast Council, said he had a plan to fix what he called the “Gosford mess”.
If he turned out to be one of the three councillors elected to represent the Wyong Ward, Mr Eaton would be responsible for constituents in an area that reaches as far south as the junction of Racecourse and Showground Rds in North Gosford and Toomeys Rd in the east.
Mr Eaton did not take a backward step in using the words “corruption” and “maladministration” to describe the conduct of the former Gosford Council.
He said the former Council had been referred to ICAC twice this year, once for its financial reports, by the NSW Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian, and secondly by the NSW opposition, following ABC 4 Corners revelations of illegal dumping at Spencer and development consent breaches at Mangrove Mountain landfill.
Mr Eaton said he expected a third referral to ICAC over roadwork contracts, and that the ICAC recommendations would “run into the hundreds”.
ICAC does not make public statements about matters referred to it unless they lead to a full inquiry or a report.
There has been no announcement from ICAC on any of the referrals made to it on matters relating to Gosford Council or Central Coast Council.
“The Central Coast Council must discipline and prosecute every single employee and councillor who was involved in these problems, or knew, but didn’t act,” Mr Eaton said.
“There must be a clear signal sent to the 2,000 plus staff and the incoming councillors, that this conduct is utterly beyond the pale,” he said.
“The Council must look at surcharging former councillors under the Local Government Act in order to show this conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Eaton said.
He said he believed, based on information now in the public domain about the Mangrove Mountain landfill, that former Gosford councillors had neglected their duties.
“If they weren’t sure of the advice they were getting, they could have demanded more time or refused to give it a tick,” he said.
“The Internal Audit function must be strengthened.
“There must be a separate department of internal audit which must be adequately resourced and staffed.
“Just as importantly, it must be independent of management and report directly to the Mayor and the elected Council.
“It must work hand in glove with the Governance Committee, which must have an independent qualified Chair and independent professional accountant and councillor members.
“Also the Mayor must be delegated adequate powers by the Council to act as a gatekeeper of the community interests.
“At Wyong Council, I had these delegations, opposed by Labor, that served my Council well.
“These included the power to obtain independent legal advice, which I used to restrain management’s personal agenda.
“This power was missing at Gosford Council.”
Mr Eaton said he was “absolutely confident” that similar anomalies would not have been uncovered at Wyong Council if an auditor had been given the same amount of time to investigate its accounts, as had been given to the Gosford books.
Media release, Aug 17
Interview, Aug 22
Doug Eaton, independent candidate for Wyong Ward
Jackie Pearson, journalist