News City of Perth report finds systemic failings in ‘dysfunctional’ council

City of Perth report finds systemic failings in ‘dysfunctional’ council

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi's term expired in October, while she was suspended from her role. Photo: ABC News
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A two-year inquiry into the trouble-plagued City of Perth would have recommended the council be removed had it not already been disbanded, Local Government Minister David Templeman has told Parliament.

Mr Templeman was tabling the inquiry’s long-awaited report into the embattled council.

The lengthy inquiry, commissioned in April 2018, was launched to help restore confidence in the city’s ability to function after the entire council was suspended following a period of turmoil.

“The city was wracked by widespread cultural and systemic failings in both the council and the administration,” the report found.

“It was plagued by poor governance practices and was, as a consequence, poorly governed and dysfunctional.”

City of Perth inquiry commissioner Tony Power found a litany of governance problems at the council. Photo: ABC News

Inquirer Tony Power said many of the problems faced by the city, its council and administration “stemmed from an inappropriate and unhealthy culture”.

“The culture of the city has been characterised by self-interest, complacency, lack of accountability, lack of transparency and a lack of effective leadership,” he said.

“These traits have provided fertile ground for greed, incompetence and mismanagement to flourish.”

Sham leases and excessive use of dining room

The report found the failings had stemmed largely from two main causes.

“They were poor behaviour and poor decision-making,” the report said.

“The poor culture at the city and poor governance practices provided fertile ground for these two root causes.”

The report’s findings included:

  • Councillors and candidates used sham leases to become eligible to stand for election
  • Decisions on planning matters were not based on planning considerations
  • Lack of disclosure of financial interests by most councillors
  • Excessive use of ratepayer-funded dining room by councillors for family and friends
  • Councillors used their positions to advance personal business interests
  • Administrative failings including a lack of financial management and planning, and procurement and contracting issues.

The report recommended a number of changes around conduct including the creation of a “single, mandatory and comprehensive code of conduct for all council members and employees of local governments.

It also recommended continuing professional development for council members and executives.