Gutwein shuts down Glenorchy stoush
Tasmania’s Glenorchy City Council has been suspended after years of infighting and fiery council meetings.
Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein has appointed former Legislative Council president Sue Smith as commissioner overseeing council affairs.
Ratepayers will foot her salary.
Mr Gutwein’s concerns reportedly include evidence of hostility between Aldermen and senior staff, police having to be called to council meetings, and allegations of non-compliance and breaches of the Local Government act.
The Local Government Minister gave the council seven days last month to convince him they were providing good governance.
“The behaviour at Glenorchy City Council has not improved and in the interests of the Glenorchy community, the aldermen will be suspended and a commissioner appointed as of midnight tonight,” he said.
“The council has had an opportunity to show it can provide good governance and has demonstrated that it is not able to do that.”
Mayor Kristie Johnston supported Mr Gutwein’s actions.
“For the protection of the community, this is the right thing to do,” she said.
“I made a promise to improve transparency and accountability at Glenorchy City Council and today's suspension in another step in that journey.
Alderman Johnston hopes to “take the reins again as mayor”.
Alderman Jenny Branch-Allen believes the council was working properly.
“Is it in the best interests of the community? I doubt it,” she said.
“People elected us two and a half years ago to represent them at this council and that is what we have been doing.
“There has been some disagreements but there is no evidence this council hasn't been upfront, transparent, [showing] good governance and making things better.”
Glenorchy Deputy Mayor Harry Quick said Mr Gutwein was trying to amalgamate the council “by stealth”, which is something he supports.
“We need amalgamation,” he said.
“It's ridiculous that we have five councils bordering on the River Derwent — we have transport issues.
“We don't need 40 or 50 councillors — we need a strong local government such as they have got in the Brisbane City Council.”
A board of inquiry - set up after a deluge of complaints from the community - will report in two months.
The outcome of the inquiry is set to determine the fate of the council.
Mr Gutwein sacked the Huon Valley Council last year because of interminable infighting.