Labor calls for ‘all things on the table’ in public inquiry

Wyong MP David Harris during Question Time in State Parliament

Labor has welcomed the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock’s decision today to call for an independent public inquiry into the performance of Central Coast Council.

Member for Wyong and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris MP, said although Labor welcomed the decision to call for the inquiry, they would also like to see wider terms of reference.

“Labor welcomes the decision to call an inquiry into the financial position of Central Coast Council,” Harris said.

“We are disappointed that Premier Gladys Berejiklian ignored calls for a Special Commission of Inquiry (Judicial Inquiry) despite widespread public support for one.

“Almost 22,000 residents signed a petition to be debated in Parliament next week.

“The key issue now is the terms of reference which should include examining the ‘Fit for the Future’ process, the decisions of the first Administrator particularly contract decisions and organisational structure, the role of the current staff and Councillors, [and] the role of audit both internal and external.

“All things should be on the table.”

The inquiry will now be headed by Rosyln McCulloch as Commissioner and is expected to take approximately a year for findings to be completed.

At the conclusion of the inquiry, McCulloch will then present a report for the Minister and potentially make recommendations regarding the findings of the inquiry.

Those recommendations may include issuing a Performance Improvement Order or dismissing Council.

Today’s announcement also requires the local government election, which was scheduled for September, to now be postponed until late 2022.

Harris has also today wrote to Council’s Interim Administrator, Dick Persson, calling for a temporary deferral of any decision on land sales.

In the letter, Harris has asked the deferral to be employed until ‘proper and appropriate’ public consultation has occurred.

He also noted the community should have the opportunity to have a full list of assets advertised with a period allowed for submissions prior to any final determinations being made.

Maisy Rae – verified sources: Office of David Harris MP