50/50 chance it’ll all happen again

FIFTY actions required to prevent a repeat of the poor behaviour that led to Perth council’s suspension have not been started.

The state government-initiated City of Perth Inquiry report was finished on June 30 and publicly released on August 11 “outlining a litany of dysfunction, poor governance, factionalism, and fertile ground for greed, incompetence and mismanagement”, according to the WA Department of Local Government.

The council was handed a list of 215 actions to ensure that kind of dumpster fire could not reignite.

Four months after the public release, 48 are complete. A briefing report to new councillors states 117 are “in progress” and 50 are “not started”. 

Pressing

Some of the “not started” items aren’t exactly late — like the action to hire a coach for the new lord mayor to ensure better leadership which is meant to happen “within three months” of October’s election — but others are more pressing.

Outstanding items include: Undertaking a “corruption and misconduct risk assessment” for staff involved with contracting, financial management, human resources, information management and service delivery. The inquiry report said this was meant to be done “within three months” but it hasn’t been started, and is now scheduled to be done by March next year; 

• Training to make sure financial management staff know what they’re doing;

• A review of the “governance unit” to ensure it’s adequate and properly resourced. That unit is meant to ensure the rules are followed, and failings and understaffing in the old regime’s governance team led to serious complaints being incorrectly dismissed without proper investigation, and allowed illegitimate voter roll entries and council candidate nominations to go unchallenged;

• Ensuring the policy for giving out grants, sponsorships and partnerships is above board. The inquiry report pulled up the old council for the huge amount of cash being poured into the Perth Public Art Foundation without proper oversight over how it was spent;

• Fixing council’s tender system which previously allowed price manipulation. Some parts have been beefed up, some are “in progress” and others haven’t been implemented at all, but overall it’s not nearly a pass mark yet.

Councillors will discuss the progress and vote on a plan of attack at the upcomingn December 15 full council meeting.

by DAVID BELL

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