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Welcome to Ratepayers Victoria Incorporated, advocating for Collaboration, Accountability & Transparency. Our 2022 vision is a future where Victorian ratepayers are highly connected, value adding and  engaging to increase their councils’ and state agencies’ propensity to achieve higher council rates affordability and local liveability. Our blog highlights the latest news and issues affecting ratepayers. Visit our Facebook.

CCC uncovers bribery, fraud on big health jobs over 10 years

Nick ButterlyThe West Australian
Friday, 17 August 2018 4:01AM

CCC recommends criminal charges for three former WA Health bureaucrats
0:42 | 7 News Perth
Play Video
CCC recommends criminal charges for three former WA Health bureaucrats
Three former senior WA Health bureaucrats face possible criminal charges after a major investigation uncovered one of the biggest corruption scandals in the State for decade
Former senior WA Health bureaucrats face possible criminal charges after a major investigation uncovered one of the biggest corruption scandals in the State for decades.
The episode has prompted authorities to issue a broad appeal for public servants across government to come forward with information amid concerns contractors may be targeting other departments with corrupt practices.
The Corruption and Crime Commission dropped a bombshell report yesterday, alleging contractors lavished executives at the North Metropolitan Health Service with expensive meals, boozy lunches, overseas travel and even home renovations in return for scoring “tens of millions of dollars” worth of construction work.
Contractors won lucrative business on Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, PathWest, Graylands Hospital, Midland and Joondalup health campuses, as well as work integrating Perth Children’s Hospital with the QEII site in Nedlands.
The CCC called for the prosecution of former NMHS executive director of facilities management John Fullerton, who the agency alleged had engaged in corruption with contractors for “years”.
Mr Fullerton, who took a voluntary redundancy from the department in 2016, was alleged to have had contractors renovate his home and his mother’s home, with fraudulent invoices billed to NMHS to cover a portion of the work.
It is alleged Mr Fullerton was offered or asked for other benefits in return for contracts, including overseas trips, tens of thousands of dollars in lunches and cash.
The CCC also called for the prosecution of Health bureaucrats David Mulligan and Shaun Ensor.
Investigators said Mr Mulligan, former executive director of the Perth Children’s Hospital integration, had arranged for contractors to win tenders to cover cash paid to him directly by Grant Alexander, a project manager to NMHS described as a “middle man” by the CCC.
The report said Mr Ensor, a former acting manager of facilities development, was “groomed” over expensive lunches to favour contractors. Mr Ensor left NMHS this year with a voluntary redundancy.
Health Minister Roger Cook said the Government would seek urgent advice from the State Solicitor’s Office on how to recover severance payments to those named as corrupt. The CCC also called for the prosecution of 10 contractors.
CCC Commissioner John McKechnie noted a number of those contractors performed work for other government departments, and he urged public servants with knowledge of other corrupt behaviour to come forward.
“I wonder if even now if there are heaps of public servants getting on the phone cancelling lunch dates,” Mr McKechnie said.
The CCC report criticised the Health Department, which the CCC had alerted to possible claims of corruption in 2014.
WA Health conducted its own internal investigation, but failed to take action against anyone.
“Warning signs were left unexplored,” the CCC report said. Investigators detailed how contractors had started to seek influence over other bureaucrats after word got out Mr Fullerton was taking a redundancy.
The report said $125,000 was spent on lunches for NMHS employees by contractors over 10 years and more than $150,000 was spent on travel for Mr Fullerton and Mr Mulligan.
“Regular and expensive gifts and gratuities given to some NMHS public officers were bribes,” the CCC said.
“Systematic manipulation of procurement practices was financial fraud.”
The CCC used surveillance and listening devices as part of its investigation and detailed how targets tried to destroy evidence once they discovered they were being watched.
The report said one contractor, Garth Delavale, spent $8600 on meals for Mr Fullerton between 2009 and 2016 at restaurants such as Matilda Bay and Galileo Buona Cucina.
Lunch appointments were always made by Mr Fullerton or his personal assistant, who would send an electronic meeting request. Mr Fullerton would select the alcohol.

August 2018 News letter

Postal address 8/1248 North Road Oakleigh South 3167
Phone 03 9570 6227 Mobile 0412 238 97
Email ; Jack_d@iinet.net.au or ratepayersvic@outlook.com

News Letter August 2018
Ratepayers Victoria has become recognized as the only Ratepayer organization
That speaks and represent 42 community groups across Victoria ( to see list of groups go to our website Ratepayers vic)

Our most recent meeting with Government MP’s was on August 8th 2018
The topic was rate capping.
On Wednesday the 8th August 2018,ratepayers Victoria were invited to speak at a parliamentary hearing into State Government policy to cap local government rates
Minister David Davis chaired the meeting
RPV expressed our concern that the present rate capping system is allowing some councils to charge ratepayers more than the 2.25% rate cap. RPV did point out that the general rate on the rate notice is the only component that is subject to rate capping. RPV did strongly state that the local government minister has to take a strong stand and make all components on the rate notice be subject to the rate cap
An example is that a Melbourne council Knox council in 2016 had their waste service charge included in their general rates ,in 2017 they implemented the waste charge as a separate component which is not subject to rate capping
RPV did point out that the present rate system is most unfair and that country ratepayers are strongly disadvantaged by the present system.70% of our ratepayers live in metropolitan Melbourne.

Some country ratepayers are paying up to three or four times more in their rates than the city ratepayers .Governments are trying ratepayers encourage ratepayers to live in the country areas but RPV ask as to why you would want to do as such when council rates are so high
RPV did discuss that charitable organizations pay no council rates yet farmers who are in drought mode still are hit with normal council rates. RPV strongly consider that farms that are considered drought areas should pay no council rates until their farms return to normal
Chairperson David Davis did point out that country councils used to get a payment of one million dollars from the State Government per year to assist them with the infrastructure costs of their country councils ,but when the State Labor did come to power in 2014 they did scrap this payment .This payment has to be returned to country councils
RPV did discuss the lack of accountability at council level and pointed out that the Federal Government is considering to put “corporate cops “into the banking system to monitor the actions of banks
RPV did mention that we have been trying for the last four years to implement independent monitors in most councils to oversee that ratepayers money is been spent wisely and within the local government act .These monitors would be independent from the local government minister’s office and would be appointed by people from say the Inspectorate, ombudsman, Auditor General, IBAC and so on.
The parliamentary committee did thank RPV for the tireless work they do to support our ratepayers of Victoria.

We have placed on our website Ratepayers vic a list of corrupt action by council’s
For more information contact the President Jack Davis ratepayersvic@outlook.com

Ratepayers Victoria recently opened up a new branch in Bendigo and was asked for advice and assistance by our new branch regarding the Bendigo Council’s plan to compulsorily acquire the farm land of Carter family. RPV did write to the local government minister in April this year and did not get a response .RPV has also sent a copy of that letter to the Premier of Victoria.
On the 3rd July 12, 2018 RPV again wrote to the local government minister and expressed our concerns about the Bendigo Council.s decision to compulsorily acquire the farm land of some 300 hectares which has been in the family for five generations.
Our letter on the 3rd July to the minister was very strong with words such as “how can this happen in Australia” and did point out that at the forth coming State Elections that this situation will be brought up.
We Stated that council decisions such as this, tugs at the heart of fair minded Australians.
RPV did get a reply from the minister’s office two days later with the comment that the decision is now with the planning Minister ,Richard Wynne ,for a decision.
RPV were pleasantly surprised to hear that on Tuesday the 10th July the planning minister announced that he had overturned the decision of the Bendigo Council and that the farm would remain with the Carter family.
RPV are not sure as to what impact we had on the planning ministers decision, but we are very pleased that justice has prevailed for this family.
Jack Davis President Ratepayers vic

State Government policy hearing on rate capping

Ratepayers Victoria Inc.

On Wednesday the 8th August 2018,ratepayers Victoria were invited to speak at a parliamentary hearing into State Government policy to cap local government rates
Minister David Davis chaired the meeting
RPV expressed our concern that the present rate capping system is allowing some councils to charge ratepayers more than the 2.25% rate cap. RPV did point out that the general rate on the rate notice is the only component that is subject to rate capping.RPV did strongly that the local government minister has to take a strong stand and make all components on the rate notice be subject to the rate cap
An example is that a Melbourne council Knox council in 2016 had their waste service charge included in their general rates ,in 2017 they implemented the waste charge as a separate component which is not subject to rate capping
RPV did point out that the present rate system is most unfair and that country ratepayers are strongly disadvantaged by the present system.70% of our ratepayers live in metropolitan Melbourne
Some country ratepayers are paying up to three or four times more in their rates than the city ratepayers .Governments are trying ratepayers encourage ratepayers to live in the country areas but RPV ask as to why you would want to do as such when council rates are so high
RPV did discuss that charitable organizations pay no council rates yet farmers who are in drought mode still are hit with normal council rates.RPV strongly consider that farms that are considered drought areas should pay no council rates until their farms return to normal
Chairperson David Davis did point out that country councils used to get a payment of one million dollars from the State Government per year to assist them with the infrastructure costs of their country councils ,but when the State Labor did come to power in 2014 they did scrap this payment .This payment has to be returned to country councils
RPV did discuss the lack of accountability at council level and pointed out that the Federal Government is considering to put “corporate cops “ into the banking system to monitor the actions of banks
RPV did mention that we have been trying for the last four years to implement independent monitors in most councils to oversee that ratepayers money is been spent wisely and within the local government act .These monitors would be independent from the local government minister’s office and would be appointed by people from say the Inspectorate ,ombudsman ,Auditor General ,IBAC and so on
The parliamentary committee did thank RPV for the tireless work they do to support our ratepayers of Victoria
Jack Davis
President RPV

“Assailant suffers injuries from fall”

“Assailant suffers injuries from fall”
Orville Smith, a store manager for Best Buy in Augusta, Ga, told police he observed a male customer, later identified as Tyrone Jackson of Augusta, on surveillance camera putting a laptop computer under his jacket. When confronted the man became irate, and knocked down an employee, drew a knife and ran for the door.
Outside on the sidewalk were four Marines collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program. Smith said the Marines stopped the man but he stabbed one of the Marines , Cpl. Phillip Duggan, in back; the injury did not appear to be severe.
After police and the ambulance arrived at the scene Cpl Duggan was transported for treatment.
The subject was also transported to the local hospital with two broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken leg several missing teeth, possible broken ribs, multiple concussions, assorted lacerations, a broken nose and a broken jaw…injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell off the curb after stubbing the Marine, “according to the police report

Council corruption and inappropriate behavior

When is enough enough

>Council corruption and inappropriate behaviour
1 Brimbank City Council

The Australian reported on 15 September 2009 the notorious ALP-controlled Brimbank Council has been dismissed by the state government after a new report found ongoing evidence of misconduct among its Labor-aligned councillors.

The inspector appointed to oversee the council following a damning Ombudsman’s report, Bill Scales, found councillors had mixed their personal business interests with council activities, leaked confidential information and improperly approached council staff. He also found the St Alban’s branch of the ALP – loyal to local numbers man and MP George Seitz – attempted to influence the council to reject a proposed site for its new headquarters.

The then Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said he would suspend the council and then introduced laws allowing them to be replaced by an administrator until new local government elections are held in three years’ time.

2. Wangaratta City Council

The Age reported on 18 September 2013 that The ‘‘dysfunctional’’ Wangaratta City Council will be sacked by the Napthine government because of rampant bullying and intimidating behaviour towards staff and councillors and waste of ratepayers funds.

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell will introduce legislation to formally dismiss the Rural City of Wangaratta Council on Wednesday, which will receive bipartisan support.

3. Wyndham City Council

News.com.au reported on 27 November 2015 the call by Victorian MP Bernie Finn who told parliament Wyndham Council should be sacked because the bullying between Wyndham councillors behind closed doors has become so bad that one MP has called on the government to sack the lot of them.
But Wyndham Council chief executive, Kelly Grigsby, said the council took seriously its obligations to provide a healthy workplace and to protect councillors from bullying and harassment.
“Where there are issues relating to bullying or inappropriate conduct between councillors, these are managed by the Councillor Code of Conduct,” she said. “Councillors can lodge a complaint via the code to address alleged contraventions.
“Currently, the organisation is investigating matters relating to behaviour that is not in-keeping with the standards outlined in the code. “Given that matters are unresolved, it would be inappropriate to comment on specific details.”
She made clear there were no concerns regarding the governance of the council.
History proves the council is no stranger to the odd scandal.
4. Geelong City Council

The ABC News reported on 14 April 2016 that the Geelong City Council was officially sacked in the wake of a report that laid bare allegations of widespread bullying and dysfunction. Councillors, including high-profile Mayor Darryn Lyons, were removed from power after the Victorian Upper House passed a bill to dismiss the entire council.

5. Councillors failing to sign code the new code of conduct laws

The ABC reported on 15 August 2017 that more than 100 Victorian councillors to be sacked over code of conduct laws.

The Victorian Parliament passed laws in 2016 to clarify the behaviour standards required of councillors, and provide a better understanding of what was expected of their conduct in office. Councils had four months to renew their codes of conduct after the legislation came into effect on March 1, and individual councillors were also required to sign a form pledging to abide by the laws.

But the Local Government Inspectorate has ruled 107 councillors across 21 municipalities have failed to comply with those requirements before the set deadline. Whole councils in 13 municipalities, including Ballarat, Frankston, Central Goldfields and Greater Shepparton have been told they will be disqualified as a result. Individual councillors from another eight municipalities, including the City of Monash, the City of Moreland, Bendigo and the Southern Grampians Shire will also be sacked for failing to sign up to the new code.

6. Central Goldfields Shire Council
The Age reported on 23 August 2017 that the state government has sacked a central Victorian council over “extensive and disturbing” financial and governance failures, which follows the charging of its CEO last month.
The Andrews government introduced an emergency bill into parliament on Wednesday to dismiss the embattled Central Goldfields Shire Council and appoint administrators to run the shire until council elections are held in October 2020.
7. Frankston City Council.

The Frankston News reported on 10 September 2017 that the state government has stepped in to scrutinise Frankston Council with the appointment of a monitor to oversee council’s operations.

The government intervention comes after the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate highlighted concerns about governance at council.
The state council’s watchdog noted council public meetings have dragged on over several evenings this year, a meeting was cancelled due to a boycott by some councillors and there are also concerns about council spending not listed in council’s official budget.

Labor Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins announced on Sunday (10 September) she had decided to appoint a monitor to oversee council at the recommendation of the inspectorate.

Prosecutions of Councillors by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate

Website: https://www.vic.gov.au/lgi.html

The Inspectorate’s website shows that over the last 9 years there have been approximately 60 prosecutions. Of these 37 were candidates for council elections who failed to declare campaign donations or failed to provide correct candidate information. Councillors comprised about 18 of the remainder of the prosecutions and one related to a council officer. There appears to be an imbalance between prosecutions of council officers compared to councillors.

1. Protecting Integrity: investigation into the 2016 Wyndham City Council

During the council election period in 2016, the Inspectorate received several reports of concerning actions of candidates who nominated for election to Wyndham City Council. The most concerning reports related to allegations of bribery, unlawful nomination and deceptive conduct in the nomination process.

The Inspectorate, in the course of its investigations, found additional anomalies and determined it is in the public interest to broaden the scope of its investigations. The investigation did highlight three key themes which present as opportunities for improvement the process and perceptions of candidates. These were:
– ease of candidates to nominate,
– lack of understanding of the councillor role, and
– transparency of alignment by candidates.

2. Central Goldfields Shire Council investigation

In September 2016, the Inspectorate received allegations relating to activities at the Central Goldfields Shire Council and specifically in relation to the Chief Executive Officer. Those matters have been the subject of a thorough investigation and have since resulted in a criminal prosecution that is currently before the courts.

3. Councillor and officer cases prosecuted

(i) 2016- 2018
No councillors were prosecuted. Many of the cases in early 2018 relate to electoral candidates allegedly failing to submit a campaign donation return. (To comply with section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989, candidates must submit a campaign donation return when they receive any gifts or donations over $500, regardless of whether or not they are elected. Failing to do so can carry heavy court-imposed fines (up to a maximum 60 penalty units).

Chief Executive Officer of Central Goldfields Shire was charged in 2016

(ii) 2015
Cr Chris Smith of Colac Otway Shire Council pleaded not guilty to seven charges of conflict of interest and one charge of failure to submit an ordinary return under section 79 and 80A of the Local Government Act. All charges were dismissed.

Cr Ian Robertson of Central Goldfields Shire Council pleaded guilty to the charge under section 79 of the Local Government Act for failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Robertson was charged with allegedly voting on the 2012/13 Budget when he would have been aware of a potential conflict of interest related to his previous court costs being covered in a budget allocation. Cr Robertson pleaded guilty to the charge. Case proven with no conviction recorded and no fine imposed.

(iii) 2014
Cr Graeme Pittock of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was charged with failing to declare a conflict of interest in three council meetings. Cr Pittock was found guilty and ordered to pay $4,000 and prosecution costs. No conviction was recorded.

(iv) 2013
Milvan Muto a former Greater Shepparton City Councillor was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in the County Court and sentenced to eight month’s imprisonment. Prior to the matter appearing before the County Court, Councillor Muto was disqualified from serving as a councillor for four years by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for gross misconduct. Councillor Muto then appealed the VCAT decision to the Supreme Court which dismissed Mr Muto’s application to appeal the VCAT decision as there was insufficient grounds.

Mike Tyler of Casey City Council was charged with two breaches of the Local Government Act 1989 for allegedly failing to disclose a conflict of interest to the mayor in writing and to notify the council of the conflict of interest at the earliest possible ordinary council meeting. Mr Tyler received a 12 month good behaviour bond without conviction and was ordered to pay $1000 to a charity and $9000 in costs.

(v) 2012
Cr Shirley Cornish of Moonee Valley City Council pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position and received 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $8000 to the Local Government Inspectorate for by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO. This was also subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Cr Paul Giuliano of Moonee Valley City Council pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO and received a 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $1,000 to Court Fund and $5,000 costs. This was also subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Cr Ian Robertson of Central Goldfields Shire Council was found guilty of two counts of conflict of interest. Based on evidence of good character and community service, the Magistrate did not record a conviction against Councillor Robertson who was placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond, ordered to pay a $4,000 donation to Maryborough Hospital, and pay the prosecution costs of $20,000. The breaches related to his lobbying and support for a significant road upgrade and paving project that effectively serviced his rural property.

Milvan Muto of Greater Shepparton City Council was required to take a mandatory leave of absence (suspension) from the role of councillor until a criminal charge of Blackmail was determined. In separate proceedings at VCAT the Inspectorate also sought to have a finding of Gross Misconduct made against Mr Muto. The criminal Blackmail charges related to witnesses in this separate matter.

(vi) 2012
Cr Belinda Clarkson of Nillumbik Shire was charged with two counts of breaching the conflict of interest over failing to declare a conflict and leave the meetings where she was the subject of the matter before council. The matter was dealt with by way of a contested hearing at the Magistrates Court where the Magistrate agreed there was a case to answer but, based on a legal interpretation, ultimately found in favour of Councillor Clarkson and the charges were dismissed.

(vii) 2011
Cr Andrea Marian of Ararat Rural City Council pleaded guilty to three Conflict of Interest charges with the more serious charge of misuse of position withdrawn. The charges resulted from Cr Marian making submissions on behalf of clients from her private business in matters that were before council Cr Marian was fined an aggregate of $10,000, to pay prosecution costs and was disqualified from nominating or acting as a councillor for 7 years.

Cr Lisa Price of City Council was found guilty on two counts of failing to declare interest and disqualified was from acting as a councillor for seven years and fined $9000 plus costs. Cr Price appealed the decision and the sentence was reduced to a 12 month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded and Cr Price was allowed to continue to act as a councillor.

Unnamed Councillor of Greater Shepparton councillor admitted guilt to failing to declare a conflict of interest and then voted on the endorsement of a new member of the council’s audit committee at the July 2010 ordinary council meeting however, the member was listed on campaign donation returns as a donor to the councillor’s election campaign fund. The councillor acknowledged the conflict of interest and the matter was resolved through the Criminal Justice Diversion Program without conviction and a fine of $500 payable to the Shepparton Hospital oncology ward.

(viii) 2010
Cr Tas Athanasopoulos of Stonnington City Council. It was alleged that Cr Athanasopoulos was ineligible to stand for re-election in 2008 because he did not hold a valid entitlement to be enrolled as a voter in the City of Stonnington. Justice Hargrave found in favour of Cr Athanasopoulos who was permitted to continue as a councillor.

Cr Susan Nichols of Mildura Rural City Council pleaded guilty for failing to disclose on return documents her position as councillor for Wentworth Shire Council in NSW. No conviction was recorded and was placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Cr Mark Eckel of Mildura Rural City Council pleaded guilty for failing to disclose that he was Vice President of Sunraysia Community Radio Association on return documents. Cr Eckel also worked as a paid radio announcer for the Association. No conviction was recorded, ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and costs and placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Cr David Saunderson of City of Greater Geelong Council was found guilty and convicted of failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Saunderson voted on a matter involving supermarket developer Lascorp which had donated to his 2004 election campaign. He did not declare the interest. He was disqualified from acting as a councillor for seven years and ordered to pay $18,000 in fines and costs.

(ix) 2009
Cr Cameron Granger of City of Greater Geelong Council was found guilty of failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Granger voted in favour of a planning application from a developer who had donated to his 2008 election campaign. He did not declare the interest Guilty without conviction and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and costs.
Boroondara Council

Monash Council 2018
I had the displeasure of watching the 31st July Council meeting Item 6-10 the Glen Waverley Library facilities.
Motion by Cr Lynnette Saloumi was to consider future use of the site and to consider cost savings .
What a circus that was.
The following ‘Circus’ that followed was a disgrace. Cr Lake proposed an amendment to the motion which resulted in “her entire motion (all 9 clauses)being removed by Cr Lake’s amendment”
The Mayor Cr Klisaris and his colleagues supported Cr Lake’s amendment.
Cr Saloumi’s motion was only to consider the future use of the site.
If ever there was a case for the Local government Minister to step in and correct a breach of Council procedure this would
be the worst I have ever witnessed.
Jack Davis
President Ratepayers Victoria Inc

Mystery over $17ml by Boroondara council where has all the money gone ????

Council’s decision to compulsory acquire land

Ratepayers Victoria recently opened up a new branch in Bendigo and was asked for advice and assistance by our new branch regarding the Bendigo Council’s plan to compulsorily acquire the farm land of Carter family. RPV did write to the local government minister in April this year and did not get a response .RPV has also sent a copy of that letter to the Premier of Victoria.

On the 3rd July 12, 2018 RPV again wrote to the local government minister and expressed our concerns about the Bendigo Council.s decision to compulsorily acquire the farm land of some 300 hectares which has been in the family for five generations.
Our letter on the 3rd July to the minister was very strong with words such as “how can this happen in Australia” and did point out that at the forth coming State Elections that this situation will be brought up.

We Stated that council decisions such as this,tugs at the heart of fair minded Australians .
RPV did get a reply from the minister’s office two days later with the comment that the decision is now with the planning minister ,Richard Wynne ,for a decision.

RPV were pleasantly surprised to hear that on Tuesday the 10th July the planning minister announced that he had overturned the decision of the Bendigo Council and that the farm would remain with the Carter family.

RPV are not sure as to what impact we had on the planning ministers decision, but we are very pleased that justice has prevailed for this family.

As stated earlier, RPV are opening up more ratepayer groups to support our ratepayers and residents with their problems.
RPV are getting more and more results in their support of the ratepayer and again encourage you, your friends and neighbors to join your local ratepayer group

Jack Davis
President RPV

Bendigo Ratepayers Group proposed

https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5045864/ratepayers-association-floated-for-bendigo/
Bendigo ratepayers association floated

Emma D’Agostino
November 9 2017 – 8:00PM

Aims of the proposed ratepayers group include holding the council accountable to its residents.
RELATED: Lack of lobby group hurting ratepayers
BENDIGO has been flagged as a city in need of a ratepayers group.
Ratepayers Victoria has informed members it “hopes shortly to open new branches in Bendigo, Shepparton, Wangaratta and Bairnsdale.”
The group aims to boost accountability and transparency in local governments, and promote collaboration between councils and residents.
Plans for a Bendigo sub-group are in the early stages.
Ratepayers Victoria vice president Frank Sullivan said he was arranging a meeting to gauge interest in the idea.
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The meeting is likely to take place next next month.
“The purpose of a ratepayer group in Bendigo is to give the ratepayers of Bendigo assistance and guidance, when required, regarding problems with their council,” Mr Sullivan said.
“It is accepted that where there is a ratepayer group that council seems to operate more smoothly.”
Feedback from the Bendigo community has informed the group’s plans to establish a sub-branch in the city.
But it is not yet known how many representations Ratepayers Victoria has received.
The city’s last known ratepayer group was the Bendigo Ratepayers Association of Council Scrutineers, which was operational from 2006 – 2008.
Its former spokesman, Martin Ruffell, told the Bendigo Advertiser earlier this year he believed ratepayers were suffering from the lack of a collective body scrutinising the council.
“I would suggest a ratepayers association is integral,” Mr Ruffell said upon learning about the proposed group
He believed an autonomous body holding the council to task would be beneficial for the community.
But Mr Ruffell had some advice to offer those who chose to get involved:
“Be aware you won’t be able to change the world as you like,” Mr Ruffell said.
“Even amongst a ratepayer’s association, you’ll probably have different opinions.”
In the absence of an association, Bendigo resident Michael McKenzie it had been left to individuals to scrutinise the local government.
“The way council operates, it’s fairly difficult to exert meaningful pressure [as an individual],” he said.
While the idea of a collective effort was agreeable to Mr McKenzie, fellow resident Ted Coleman was not convinced it would be effective.
“I don’t see the necessity,” Mr Coleman said.
“There are sufficient groups and individuals in place to keep council up-to-date.”

Mystery over $11.7m spend by Boroondara Council

Mystery over $11.7m spend

Boroondara Council has released some details of its digital revamp, but key questions remain, writes Rebecca Di Nuzzo

The council insists its spend of almost $12 million covers a “digital transformation” rather than just a website – but details of how exactly the money is being spent remain unclear. Picture: Wayne Taylor
Boroondara Council has revealed some competing tenders for its $11.7 million website — but remained tightlipped about the most lucrative part, awarded to Deloitte.
Documents obtained by the Leader under Freedom of Information reveal 15 contracts, some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, were doled out to companies under the council’s “digital transformation” project.
Two contracts, including one worth more than $600,000 for “website solution design, information architecture and content development”, and a $278,840 tender for “security performance testing”, cost more than the total amount spent by other Melbourne councils on their website overhauls, including neighbouring Stonnington, which spent about $350,000 in total.
The documents show the council mostly went with the cheaper option for the more minor parts of the project.
But it refused to disclose competing tenders for the priciest component — $9.5 million given to Deloitte for website “design, build, redevelopment, release and managed services” — because the tenderers objected to having their details revealed.
Money spent on the creation of eight eForms, which the council has repeatedly pointed to as being of great benefit to residents, was also not disclosed.
Paul Cousins of Web Initiatives said the open source system, Drupal, used by Deloitte to carry out the work, including merging six websites into one, was a free tool anyone could use.
He said he believed many of the other separate tenders, including for the development of eForm icons, could have been bundled in with Deloitte’s work, rather than farmed out as separate contracts.
He also added that from a “design point of view”, and without knowing what had gone into the back end of the project, he would have costed Boroondara’s new website at about $300,000.
“The website looks terrific, it looks good,” Mr Cousins said.
“I don’t know what value the community’s getting out of that. Clearly there would have been other options that wouldn’t have cost $9.5 million.”
Another expert, Renato Dayan of Light Media, said the cost of Boroondara’s web project was “extraordinary”, and his company, which had also overhauled council websites, charged “a fraction of that amount”.
It was difficult to tell whether the $9.5 million contract awarded to Deloitte was too much, he said, because the FOI document contained insufficient information about their work.
Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said the cost of the project was “ridiculous” and called for greater oversight on councils.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous the amount of money councils spend on contractors. The average minister has no idea what’s going on in local government,” he said.
And Balwyn North’s Ian Hundley said his request for a public meeting so residents could learn more about the project was “summarily dismissed” and the lack of transparency was worrying.
He also said the language used to describe the project in council meeting agendas was “opaque”, making it difficult to understand what was being delivered.
“I think there should be a process for an independent examination on this,” he said.
Earlier this year the Leader spoke to 12 other councils about their website projects, all of which put the cost at between $61,640 (Nillumbik) and $2 million (Darebin) and included work such as merging separate websites, the creation of eForms and maintenance.
Boroondara chief executive Phil Storer said the $11.7 million spend was an appropriate use of ratepayer cash and the project could incur further costs.
Almost 200,000 users accessed the site between January and March, he said, and it was “misleading” to compare the price of different council websites without knowing what each council had delivered.
The council also got new computer hardware as part of the project, he said, and the tender process ensured it got the best price.
Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz did not respond to the Leader’s questions last week.
It’s absolutely ridiculous, the amount of money councils spend on contractors
JACK DAVIS, RATEPAYERS VICTORIA
Rebecca Di Nuzzo
Progress Leader
June 12 2018

New Sale Ratepayers group

Ratepayers Victoria were recently requested to assist with the formation of a ratepayer group in Sale,(Wellington Shire council).
RPV Attended a call to hold public meeting in Sale on the 13th June 2018 with the purpose to set up a ratepayer group in that area.
Some 20 people attended this meeting which was compered by RPV(Vice President Frank Sullivan)
It was explained to those attendees that the benefits of having a Ratepayer group so ratepayers have somewhere to go to for advice and guidance regarding problems they are having with their council.
This is the sixth ratepayer group which RPV have set up in the last 8 months ,they been
Geelong – Bendigo- Shepparton – Warrnambool – Maribyrnong- Sale.
Ratepayers Victoria encourage you to contact your your local Ratepayer group as there are great benefits for the ratepayer to be a member.
Jack Davis President

Three public meetings

Warrnambool
Ratepayers Victoria recently visited Warrnambool to oversee a public meeting with the purpose of setting up a new ratepayer group in Warrnambool.
Some 60 people attended the meeting held on the 16th May 2018.
The driving force behind the meeting was Ann Vickery, a Local resident.
RPV did a local newspaper report some days prior to the meeting to tell the local residents when and where the meeting was and what are the benefits of a ratepayer group in Warrnambool.
Ann Vickery agreed on the night to be the coordinator to set up the new committee and the feedback from Warrnambool is that they are now up and running.
Any local residents who are interested in joining the group contact Ann by email vickeryann@hotmail.com or mobile 0408986302.

Maribyrnong council
Ratepayers Victoria will be attending a public meeting on the 30th May, 2018 at the Dream Factory, 90 Maribyrnong Street, Footscray between 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
It would seem that the meeting has been called by a group of concerned residents about the operations of the Maribyrnong Council.
At present there is little or no accountability at council level and RPV hope to change that.
At a conference held by RPV for our ratepayer groups around Victoria, a theme was adopted at the conference “enough is enough”
Come along to this meeting it is your council and have your say. Apathy is our worst enemy.

Wellington Shire Council
Ratepayers Victoria have been requested to oversee a public meeting in Sale on the 13th June 2018 with the purpose to form a new ratepayer group in Sale which is the Wellington Shire Council
The public meeting will be held at the “Mary Field Hall” in Petit Drive, Sale near the railway station at 7.00, RPV will be doing an article for the local newspaper to publicize the meeting shortly.
Yes, it is your council so come along and make your council more accountable. RPV feel that our ratepayers are saying “enough is enough”
Vice President Frank Sullivan
Contact 0438 555 805