Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek launched a promising rejuvenation of Local Government last June which included the ability for voters to be able to petition for the removal of a Councillor.
The union for Councils - the Municipal Association of Victoria - which is funded by both taxpayers and Council rate revenue - has lobbied so successfully against it, that the concept doesn’t even appear in the proposed Local Government Act now before Parliament.
The MAV submission on the Legislation reads:
“The State has proposed that a Commission of Inquiry capable of making findings that a councillor has caused, or has contributed to, failure in council governance, be formed on the basis of a voter petition of more than 25% of eligible voters.
“The MAV does not support this proposal. The objective seems to be to provide a mechanism for members of the local community (whether well-meaning, disaffected, politically motivated, personally motivated, or with malicious intent) to initiate a process with the intent of removing a democratically elected Councillor during their term of office.
“This concept is fraught.”
Fraught? Really. Compared with what?
CEOs with unfettered and unsupervised powers to hire as many staff as they want and sign off on secret contracts?
Legislation that charges Councillors with ‘serious mis-conduct’ if they try to get information from staff and staff decide they don’t want to hand over the information and charge the Councillor with bullying?
The MAV objects to a 25% petition to initiate a commission of inquiry. How pathetic.
In my council, ,Maribyrnong City Council, only one of seven Councillors elected won more than 19% of the primary vote. So it’s a fairly big ask for residents to come up with 25%. And THAT only gets them to a commission of inquiry.
So how unaccountable do Councillors want to be?
It seems the MAV has so little confidence in the integrity and professionalism of its member Councillors (for whom it also provides paid training) that it just couldn’t risk the possibility ratepayers could generate a 25% quota of signatures AND enough evidence for a Commission of Inquiry to decide Councillors had failed to carry out their duties honestly and impartially.
And Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek agreed.
So it appears he doesn’t have much faith in the integrity of his Councillors either.
For ratepayers and residents of course, it’s a laugh.
Because we’ve rarely had any faith in them.
And now, deliberately omitting the Petition Clauses from the Legislation just proves the Minister and MAV know that ratepayers have been right all along.