You have to wonder why Terrigal MP Adam Crouch and Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock are so afraid of a judicial inquiry into Central Coast Council (“I want a public inquiry – Crouch” CCN286).
The e-petition for a judicial inquiry garnered 21,422 signatures in just three weeks.
Yet, having backed his own Government in deferring debate on that petition until May 6, Adam now wants to replace it with a petition of his own for a Minister Hancock initiated inquiry before April 29.
Like many who signed the original petition, I believe only a judicial inquiry, conducted by a judge with appropriate powers including power of subpoena, would be seen as genuinely independent.
A Minister Hancock initiated inquiry, on the other hand, will be conducted by a NSW Government appointed hack and be perceived by many as not independent.
There is also an issue of trust with a Minister Hancock initiated inquiry.
This is the same Minister Hancock that Administrator Dick Persson mentioned at Council on March 9 as not conveying any opposition to a rate hike to him during their meetings, despite opposing it in public (“Administrator Lets Fly” CCN, March 12).
The inference here was clear – Minister Hancock has been saying one thing in public about the rate hike and another in private.
I met Adam Crouch at his office in early March and told him why I preferred a judicial inquiry, and he replied that a judicial inquiry wasn’t legally possible.
When I disputed this, he promised one of his staffers would send me extracts from legislation proving his point – but four weeks later I have received nothing.
Now, he appears to have dropped that argument and produced an even more convoluted one to head off the judicial inquiry.
A new argument that also allows him to play party politics around the role of Labor and CEN councillors.
Sadly, this sort of partisan politics won’t get us anywhere near the real root cause of this crisis – which I believe lies at least in large part in an incompetent and inappropriate managerial culture within the Council senior bureaucracy.
Others may have their own views about root cause.
But hopefully we can all agree that a non-partisan, genuinely independent, judicial inquiry stands the best chance of getting to the bottom of it and hopefully produce recommendations that protect ratepayers in future.
Why are Adam and Shelley so afraid of that?
Email, Apr 4
Kevin Brooks, Kincumber