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Veil Of Council Secrecy To Be Lifted Under Proposed Laws

Tags: Tony Piccolo MP / Gawler / Light Electorate / Building Communities / Shadow Ministry

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  • By Tony Piccolo
  • Oct 30, 2018
Veil Of Council Secrecy To Be Lifted Under Proposed Laws

Local MP Tony Piccolo with a copy of the new laws introduced into state parliament last week.


Under laws introduced into State Parliament last week, councils like the Town of Gawler will no longer be able to hide behind‘commercial in confidence’ to keep information about project cost blowouts from ratepayers and residents.

The Ratepayer Protection Bill 2018 prepared by local Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Local Government, Tony Piccolo, said that ratepayers and residents have right to know when project costs blowout, as they impact on Council rates.

Under the proposed laws, Councils will be required to prepare a report for publication in a prominent place on their website when a new service or project exceeds 10% of the amount allocated in council’s annual business plan or project budget.

“More importantly, Councils will be required within 30 days of receiving the report, to publish it on a prominent part of their website,” Mr Piccolo said.

Mr Piccolo said that he understands the Civic Centre redevelopment has blown its budget by over 1.2 million dollars.

“That adds up to a lot of unmade footpaths and unsealed roads,” said Mr Piccolo.

“I can’t confirm the figure as Council have refused to make the information available, but clearly, the ratepayers have a right to know.”

“Additionally, Council’s will need to be more open about how well council maintains its infrastructure.

The proposed laws seek to improve Council transparency, accountability and disclosure.

Mr Piccolo said that some Council’s do it quite well and have ongoing engagement with their community, while others treat their ratepayers and residents like children and talk down to them.

“In my view, Gawler Council doesn’t do transparency and accountability very well at all,” said Mr Piccolo.

“For whatever reason, Gawler Council believes that local ratepayers and residents must be protected from the truth.

“It is a very paternalistic and disrespectful way of treating the community.”

“It has denied:

 

- Kudla and Hillier residents vital information about future plans for their community

- All Gawler residents information about the million dollar blow out on the Civic Centre redevelopment

 

and when they were caught out charging people parking fines illegally, they discussed it behind closed doors.

“This lack of transparency reduces the community’s trust in their Council.

“Council decisions impact on the daily lives of people, so they owe it to them to be open.

“I’m hoping the new Council will be more open with the community,” Mr Piccolo added.

 

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