Book of John

JOHN CAREY (right) has released a 25-page manifesto, Raising the Bar, which challenges councils across WA to get real about transparency.

The Vincent mayor’s report is damning of local government, saying councils often “do not demonstrate or show any interest in improving the public’s access to information”.

Neighbouring Perth city council, for example, had to be forced by a change in state government law into allowing ratepayers to see an online register of gifts to elected members.

Mr Carey, who is Labor’s candidate for the state seat of Perth, wants recordings of council meetings made available online, without fuss.

Perth city council wouldn’t allow the Voice access to its recordings, while for a period Bayswater simply stopped recording at all at the peak of council infighting.

Mr Carey’s paper notes the appointment of powerful CEOs is often a murky process.

Mr Carey reckons CEO contracts shouldn’t be dealt with less than six months out from an election, and senior executive staff ought to have their salaries posted online to keep salary growth and size of the public sector accountable.

The mayor’s transparency push isn’t popular across the sector: many of his recommendations were shot down at a WA local government conference meeting (172 to 46 votes), with WALGA boss Lynne Craigie speaking against moves such as mandatory training for councillors.

Likewise, Perth lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi reckons current rules are solid and online gift lists and registers noting when councillors meet developers are unnecessary, since they’re located in annual returns and her own diary (the PCC won’t let us see either, and Ms Scaffidi’s now been found to not have properly declared her gifts and travel contributions anyway).

But Mr Carey still has plans to spread these ideas to other councils, providing ready-made motions that like-minded councillors can present to colleagues.

Meanwhile, about 45 councillors from nearly every urban council attended a talk that Mr Carey hosted last Friday, where Melbourne councillor and Crikey! founder Stephen Mayne stopped by to talk transparency and how to get measures through, despite opposition.

Raising the Bar’s on the front page at http://www.vincent.wa.gov.au

by DAVID BELL

DHM Plumbing 5x3

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