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PICCOLO MOVES TO LIMIT COUNCIL SECRECY

Tags: Tony Piccolo MP / Shadow Ministry

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  • By Light Electoral Office
  • Jan 07, 2019
PICCOLO MOVES TO LIMIT COUNCIL SECRECY

 

Local Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Local Government, Mr Tony Piccolo, has called on the Marshall Liberal Government to end the excessive secrecy which exists in some councils by passing legislation he has already introduced into the State Parliament.

Mr Piccolo said the Ratepayer Protection Bill - currently stalled in the Lower House - has been passed by the Upper House with the support of all parties, except the Liberals.

The Bill raises the threshold for councils to meet “in confidence”, behind closed doors, and makes elected members accountable for their decisions made while meeting in confidence.

Mr Piccolo said the Bill is designed to improve transparency and accountability in local government.

“While some in confidence discussions are appropriate, excessive secrecy builds mistrust and engenders the view that the council has something to hide.”

“There is certainly a strong view in the community that the secrecy provisions are used to hide embarrassing council decisions or mismanagement.”

Last week, figures were published which reveal that the Gawler Council is in the top four councils state-wide for its use of secrecy provisions in meeting deliberations.

Trailing only the City of Adelaide (with its significant land assets), Tea Tree Gully and Walkerville councils, The Advertiser revealed that the Gawler Council banned the public from observing its proceedings on 36 occasions in 2017-18 and prevented the full or partial release of 30 council documents.

Mr Piccolo said the figures show the Gawler Council makes excessive use of the “commercial in confidence” provisions laid out in the Local Government Act.

“Gawler Council’s decision to not disclose the budget blowout surrounding its new Civic Centre development is a prime example of the council’s secretive stance.

“Rumours suggest that the budget has blown out by over $4 million from the original decision.

“While the redevelopment looks good, it is hard for ratepayers and residents to judge whether the project has been worthwhile as this depends on the project’s final price tag.”

Mr Piccolo said the decision by Council to keep secret the Jenson Report about the potential future character of the council’s southern rural areas has also continued to enrage ratepayers and residents.

“I am, however, encouraged by the new Council, which seems less inclined to overuse the secrecy provisions.”

 

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