Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Australia deals with non-performing councils

Corruption is not unique to South Africa, still we rank very poorly by world standards so says Transparency International. The reason is directly attributable to the ANC's policy of cadre deployment (jobs for pals). It guarantees an environment for pals to gain access to the petty cash box without oversight. Cronyism flourishes in almost ALL council structures because there are no checks and balances. This situation is aggravated further by inept affirmative action programs that remove competent people, (usually whites) and even blacks if they belong to the 'wrong' party (usually COPE).

There are people warming seats that should not be there, we know that, from mayors down, people that are incapable of pissing in a toilet bowl much less delivering important basic services. They just do not know how to or don't want to know. Public service is, to the ANC, secondary that's not why those people are there. Zuma can have a million hotlines but it will achieve squat if there is no-one to follow the complaints through. What is foremost to the ANC is loyalty, a cadre's bootlicking skills. Most once employed see it as a chance for the oft promised "better life" and so set about enriching themselves as the first order of business.

Despite reports and tales of corruption, few of these people are ever fired, the reason being those in higher office entrusted to oversee them are sometimes worse offenders in any event so it is a case of the fox minding the chicken feed.

Things work differently Down Under, indeed in most First World countries, there is little tolerance for ineptitude or incompetence much less the slightest whiff of impropriety. Here's an example. An entire council gets sacked, their 'crimes' laughable (quashing a parking fine?) by South African standards but misdeeds occurred nevertheless and the people got the sack. It serves to explain why Australia functions well and South Africa does not.

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Brimbank Council sacked by State Government after further findings of misconduct

Troubled Brimbank City Council has been sacked and administrators appointed until November 2012 after further findings of misconduct.

Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said a second report from Local Government Inspector Bill Scales, who was appointed following the Ombudsman’s report into council corruption in May, showed a failure of councillors to address misconduct issues.

"Sacking a council is a very serious step and one this Government does not take lightly. Our Government has only dismissed one other council – Glen Eira City Council, in 2005, for a failure of good governance,” Mr Wynne said.

"In the interests of good governance for the people of Brimbank and on advice from the Local Government Inspector, the State Government has decided to suspend Brimbank City Council and will move to dismiss the council until the next local government elections in November 2012,” Mr Wynne said.

"Unfortunately, the Government has been left with no choice, given that Mr Scales has found that councillors have fundamentally failed to correct poor practices and issues of probity and misconduct.”

Mr Wynne said it was clear that new councillors elected in November were either “unwilling or unable” to accept that their behaviour needs to change dramatically.

"I said clearly when I appointed Mr Scales the council were on notice and if we did not see real cultural change at Brimbank we would take action.”

The report from Mr Scales found a continuation of “the very same poor practices” that led to the Ombudsman’s investigation. Mr Scales recommended the council be removed.

A number of incidents have been highlighted in Mr Scales’ report showing the council had not addressed behavioural and cultural issues highlighted by the Ombudsman, including:

- An attempt by a councillor to inappropriately challenge the legitimate issuing of a parking fine;

- The leaking of confidential information;

- Systemic misconduct of councillors; and

- An attempt at undue influence of councillors by an outside organisation.

Mr Scales said some councillors had not changed their behaviour after the Ombudsman's report.

"The current council has had ample opportunity to read and consider all of the recommendations in the Ombudsmen Victoria Report, understand its implications and what constitutes good governments and good government,'' Mr Scales said in his report.

"However a number of councillors have shown by their actions little if any commitment to meeting these basic requirements or to understanding why they are necessary.

"In addition, at least one organisation in Brimbank, the St Albans branch of the ALP, is still trying to apply undue influence on certain councillors, even though the appropriateness of this was specifically highlighted in the ombudsmen's report.''

Mr Scales said he realised recommending the suspension and dismissal of the council was very serious and said the matters he considered related to a significant number of the 11 councillors.

"I have concluded that the problems identified by the Ombudsmen in his report are deep-seated and are still sustained within the Brimbank City Council,'' he said.

Mr Scales will act as interim administrator until legislation to dismiss the council was passed.

Mr Wynne thanked Mr Scales for his thorough work over the past four months and for his commitment to steer Brimbank Council through this early period of administration.

The initial Ombudsman’s report in May found that councillors were unduly influenced by Labor figures, which led to new laws banning councillors from working as staffers to MPs.

Hat tip: Amelia

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Wow - sack the ENTIRE council for mismanagement and I bet they won't lose a productive day by doing this. Now, where are the examples in SA of actually reading commissioned reports and acting on them??