Perth wide open

A REPORT on accountability and transparency at Perth city council has recommended it changes from a “traditional” to an “open government” approach.

The report, requested by councillors last year during the furore surrounding lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s undeclared travel, reviewed local governments around Australia, and suggested Perth transition from a management approach, which provides accountability through elections and reporting, to one which promises ongoing community engagement and scrutiny.

“Community consultation has been primarily to provide information and/or input with no, or very limited opportunity for stakeholders or the community to be involved in the decision making process”, the report stated.

The report also noted that local governments around the world use online tools to facilitate openness best practice.

Overdue

The review was initiated by deputy lord mayor James Limnios, who commended the administration for their work, but suggested it was overdue.

“This report is brilliant and a great start, but it doesn’t say where to next,” he said.

Perth council CEO Martin Mileham said the report would be reflected in its community plan, and subsequently issued a press release saying the council was striving towards a goal of leading the local government sector in transparency and accountability.

Some of the transparency measures implemented by the city since January last year include:

• Discontinuing the practice of accepting bulk ticket and hospitality packages for sponsorship arrangements
• Publishing online travel and gift registers
• Preparing reports for all conferences attended in an official capacity
• Uploading audio recordings for council meetings
• Council approving all travel paid for by a third party
• A register of interests for councillors and staff

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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