Public Inquiry submissions close on June 21

Commissioner Roslyn McCulloch

The public, along with suspended councillors, have until June 21 to submit their thoughts to the Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council.

However, the suspended councillors will not have access to their council issued laptops, which were confiscated the moment they were suspended.

Suspended Councillor, Jane Smith, addressed the Administrator, Rik Hart, at the May 25 meeting, hoping for access to her information.

Hart said that he had every sympathy, as the councillors had very little time from being in situ to being suspended.

CEO, David Farmer, added that Council would proactively release information on the website in the next week and make it available to all parties.

He said the suspended councillors were able to use informal Government Information Public Access (GIPA) requests, but noted that Council hadn’t received one yet.

“We will be publishing a significant amount of information and if people want more, they will have to go through the GIPA process,” Farmer said.

The Public Inquiry is in information gathering mode and Council has been asked to provide documents.

The Public Inquiry was called on April 26 by the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock.

Terms of reference for the Inquiry are to report to the Minister for Local Government on whether the governing body acted in a manner that maximised the success of gaining efficiencies and financial savings from the merger process, if it disregarded the financial consequences of its decisions, and whether the governing body’s decisions since 2017 contributed to Council’s financial position.

Commissioner, Roslyn McCulloch, has to decide if the governing body ensured, as far as possible, that its decisions had regard to the financial sustainability of the Council, and that it kept under review the performance of the Council, including that Council spending was responsible and sustainable by aligning general revenue and expenses.

The public can submit information, including any other matter that warrants mention, particularly those that may impact on the effective administration of Council’s functions and responsibilities or the community’s confidence in the Council being able to meet them.

The Inquiry’s information paper said that there were protections available to people making a submission to the Inquiry against potential liability for defamation, provided the material was relevant to the Terms of Reference.

The Commissioner may make recommendations at the outcomes of the Inquiry, including whether all civic offices at Central Coast Council should be declared vacant.

Written submissions should be forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner, Central Coast Council Public Inquiry, Locked Bag 3018, Nowra NSW 2541.

Submissions may also be emailed to centralcoastcouncil.publicinquiry@olg.nsw.gov.au

Merilyn Vale

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