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City of Perth report a wake-up call for local government: Minister

The final report of the Inquiry into the City of Perth was today tabled in State Parliament, outlining a litany of dysfunction, poor governance, factionalism, and fertile ground for greed, incompetence and mismanagement.

The 2,000-page document contains over 250 findings and 350 recommendations, which have implications for the City and the broader local government sector.

During its examination the Inquiry identified 135 matters that required referral to other organisations including WA Police, Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Taxation Office.  

Case studies and findings highlight:

  • councillors and candidates using sham leases to become eligible to stand for election;
  • decisions on planning matters not based on planning considerations;
  • lack of disclosure of financial interests by most councillors;
  • excessive use of dining room by councillors for family and friends;
  • councillors using their position to advance personal business interests;
  • focus on specific events for the allocation of grants, sponsorships and tickets; and
  • a range of issues with the City’s administration – poor management, lack of financial management and planning, and procurement and contracting issues.

The report has been referred to the City, which has 35 days to advise what it has done or proposes to do to give effect to the recommendations that apply to the City of Perth.

The recommendations by the Inquirer Mr Tony Power that apply to the local government sector are broadly supported by the Government.

These, together with the recommendations of the Local Government Act Review Panel released last week, will feed into the Local Government Act Review process.

This process has been a key focus of reform by the Local Government Minister David Templeman over the past three and a half years.

This reform process has already addressed a number of the issues that have been raised by the report, including mandatory training for elected members, a mandatory code of conduct for members and candidates, and the provision of clarity for elected members to manage real and perceived conflicts of interest related to gifts.