Perth issues detailed
A report into a tumultuous era that saw the entire Perth council sacked has now been finalised.
The report finds “greed, incompetence and mismanagement” flourished at the City of Perth under former Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
The report says it would have recommended the council be removed, had it not already been disbanded, according to Local Government Minister David Templeman.
The review was commissioned in order to restore confidence in the city's ability to function after the entire council was suspended in 2018.
As leaders of WA's capital city council, the City of Perth should have been “the benchmark for local government governance and leadership standards. It should be an exemplar organisation”, the report states.
Instead, it was “wracked by widespread cultural and systemic failings in both the council and the administration”.
“It was plagued by poor governance practices and was, as a consequence, poorly governed and dysfunctional,” the report found.
“This failure was the direct result of poor governance and poor decision-making at many levels, a lack of integrity and teamwork in the city's leadership, and widespread cultural and systemic failings in both the council and the administration of the city.”
Former lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi was slammed for “systemic failures in leadership”.
The report found certain councillors used their own positions to advance their personal interests, misused their official entitlements and failed to properly declare conflicts of interest and even manipulated election processes.
It found evidence that sham leases to become eligible to stand for election, and that entitlements including use of an exclusive dining room, reimbursement for costs related to restaurants, clothes and dry cleaning had been misused.
Some decisions on planning matters were not based on planning considerations, and there was a lack of disclosure of financial interests by most councillors.
Additionally, the City of Perth was plagued by administrative failings including a lack of financial management and planning, and procurement and contracting issues.
Inquirer Tony Power says issues “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.”
The 2,000-page report calls for changes including the creation of a “single, mandatory and comprehensive Code of Conduct for all council members and employees of local governments”.
It also recommended more professional development for council members and executives.
But these are just the beginning, with the report including over 250 findings and 350 recommendations.
Additionally, more than 135 matters stemming from the inquiry have been referred to police or other agencies like the ATO.