Like many local residents, I’m frustrated and angry at the behaviour of many of our local Councillors. Very clear breeches of conflict of interest that would get the rest of us sacked from our normal jobs seem to go unpunished at a Council level. Not surprisingly, public faith in local government and our elected representatives seems to be at an all-time low.
I’m fed up with the shady behaviour from some of our local representatives, and I’m tired of their embarrassing antics ending up on the front page of the Herald, dragging the entire area through the mud with them.
It’s time to shine a light on this behaviour and give residents and Council officers the power to take action over corruption concerns. That’s why I’m proposing that Council institute a Probity and Disputes Ombudsman. The Ombudsman would be a part-time position funded by Council, but at arm’s length from Council and Councillors. Someone who can:
- review contentious decisions made by Council or management
- Provide advice on corruption prevention measures to make the Council more corruption resistant
- Ensure best practice procedures are in place when Council contracts are issued or spot re-zonings are proposed
- Someone staff can complain to when they think something untoward has happened or if they have concerns about management behaviour
The idea is not replace ICAC or the Department of Local Government, but to provide an extra level of protection and to put an extra (and independent) eye on what is going on. Corruption doesn’t discriminate along party lines, and unfortunately we’ve seen too many examples of politicians lining their own pockets instead of serving their community.
A local Ombudsman would be another independent set of eyes to ensure that corruption has no place in Georges River Council.