No excusing fiscal incompetence

Suspended Councillor Chris Holstein

Forum –

Chris Holstein’s contention about our present catastrophic situation, that “a public inquiry would accomplish little … (because) it has the potential to embarrass the State Government, the Department of Local Government and the Audit Office” (CCN 291) is exactly the reason why we need a proper public inquiry and not the kind of cover-up set in place by the Minister.

Of course, the main responsibility lies with the councillors, including Mr. Holstein, but there is plenty of blame to go around, and we need to get to the bottom of the financial shambles that we are facing.

Mr. Holstein’s explanation that “somewhere something went wrong” is about the level of perception that we’ve come to expect from this council (and from the Gosford Council that preceded it).

Harping on the amalgamation is just typical blame-shifting, as our Administrator Mark 2 has pointed out.

Of course, our Administrator Mark 1 did a miserably poor job of setting up an administrative system for the city (as I have pointed out from the start), so why didn’t the councillors say so immediately they took office, instead of happily carrying on for three years, as though everything was hunky dory, until the roof fell in?

Now, Mr. Holstein discovers that “there were many systemic failures at all levels of management” but, somehow, he had no responsibility for correcting them or even bringing them to public attention, just as he was never responsible for Gosford Council’s bad investment judgement so many years ago.

Let us recall that, once, Mr. Holstein and his tattered Central Coast Taskforce were offering to solve all the city’s problems, so what happened to all that expertise that he lay claim to?

At the same time, we have Jane Smith (CCN 291) wanting us to believe that it was solely the State Government’s fault that councillors didn’t know that they only had $5M dollars to cover all the largesse they were splashing out in the annual budgets.

This breathtaking attempt to shift blame for the inexcusable fiscal incompetence of the Council will be seen by everybody for what it is.

To claim that the Council didn’t know is to admit to the incompetence: it is the Council’s job to know, and, if Ms. Smith (and others) didn’t have the ability to do the job they were elected for, they shouldn’t have run for office in the first place and they certainly shouldn’t have accepted a full-time salary for such sloppy and slipshod management of our resources.

Now that Administrator Mark 3 is in place, can we look forward to a better information flow and to a better role for the community in the expenditure of our money?

Hope springs eternal, so let us see whether time will make us happier with our lot than we are today.

Email, May 7
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy