We encourage ratepayers to log their budget review experiences and leave an audit trail of transparency and accountability issues. We will publish this audit trail in this website – the information will be used as evidence to assist RPV’s discussions with the Minister of Local Government and also to help the Auditor General Office access case studies for their on-going audit reviews of Local Government functions. The first audit trail is the Monash case.
A Press Release has been issued to highlight the major concerns discovered in the review of several councils’ financial management and rating practices. A recent April 2012 audit report on council’s performance reporting practices is currently available on the VAGO webpage and the issues reported also impact rate pricing and confirm some of our investigation findings. Also see pages inquiry projects and election matters.
Read this 31 Jan 2012 Herald Sun article – Example of governance questions that ratepayers can ask of their Council:
- Has the implementation and on-going financial management of the decision been evaluated during its making?
- Did the agreeing Councils consider other more effective strategies that can better benefit the Aboriginal community?
- Has the local ratepayers been consulted as they are funding the implementation and on-going expenses of their Councils’ decisions?
- Has the Aboriginal community been consulted to confirm that this decision is what they want as best choice?
Council decision making has to be accountable – is it? Who owns decision accountability? What protection or legal rights ratepayers have when no one takes accountability for poor decisions?
The evidence …..
The aboriginal funeral idea is out of line with directions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s national Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) framework. This RAP framework prefers organisations to pursue reconciliation through clear actions and commitments focussed on respect, relationships and opportunities (The Australian, 6 Feb 2012). Dr Calma (Reconciliation Australia co-chair) states that “RAPS are helping to build a nation that understands its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural roots and that’s something that benefits all Australians”.
Unfortunately, the aboriginal funeral expense reimbursement decision agreed by several Councils recently showed evidence of poor, irresponsible and discriminating Council decision making because:
- As an advocate for multiculturalism, Councils should know better that Australian indigenous people are made up of 2 distinct groups – the Aborigines and Torres Straits islanders. By excluding Torres Straits indigenous people in the Councils’ consensus decision, they have violated racial equality in their decision making and created disharmony in RAP execution.
- The consensus decision creates public conflicts that divide the indigenous people and other Australians in the ratepayers community
- There is no disclosure of financial funding and sound management to ensure no impact on future rate rises, which may also result in controversial public debates that adds to the unnecessary divide of the indigenous people and the wide Australian community.
Council decision makers are community leaders and not understanding the governance requirements and public harmony of their consensus decision is no excuse. They can be asked to resign or not stand for the next election, or even to be sacked as the growing preception is that they not capable and befitting to represent their ratepayer communities.