Public inquiry required prior to suspension of councillors

Suspended Central Coast Councillors

Forum –

Democracy is under threat on the Central Coast.

The community’s right to have local matters subjected to local democratic processes is being undermined by the State Government’s threat to impose an Administrator in lieu of our Councillors.

Fifteen councillors were elected in 2017 by our 340,000 residents in a compulsory competitive ballot.

The Central Coast community chose the people it wanted to deal with local matters in the interest of the community.

The State Government is the body responsible for oversight of the conduct of Council finances.

Financial difficulties do not suddenly appear overnight.

If the Government has failed in its responsibility to detect mismanagement, it must first look at its own processes committed to the task.

The suspension of councillors is not necessarily the appropriate solution.

In any case, according to the Local Government Act 1993, a public inquiry is required prior to such action.

This would openly inform us all of the facts, rather than the rumours generated by politically motivated “white ants” within the ranks of the Councillors and Council staff.

There are rules and processes by which Councillors are kept informed of the performance of the Council.

Councillors rely on both the Government’s and the Council’s own reporting systems.

If either have failed, it is not the fault of the Councillors, especially if the access of Councillors to financial information is in any way impeded by Government actions or “gatekeepers” within Council.

Our 15 Councillors are no more or less competent to manage our local affairs than those of any other local government in NSW.

Proof of their incapacity must be rigorously demonstrated prior to their suspension.

Remember that the last Administrator “voted” unilaterally on many matters that influenced the future direction of the Central Coast, including the sale of environmentally sensitive land at Kangy Angy.

Residents are still awaiting the establishment of offsets.

Remember also that Councillors have been virtually excluded from development approval processes by the establishment of a State appointed Local Planning Panel and a Regional Planning Panel.

The democratic rights of the people of the Central Coast must not be violated or lightly overridden for specious reasons convenient to vested interests.

Email, Oct 25
Barbara Gorman, Bateau Bay

Share this story