SA Minister backflip on Burnside Council investigation
The South Australian Local Government Minister, Russell Wortley, has announced that an investigation into Burnside Council will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions if there is evidence of wrongdoing, reversing his decision earlier this month to abandon the $1.3 million investigation by former auditor-general Ken MacPherson.
Mr Wortley has said that he will ask the Crown Solicitor’s office to examine evidence gathered in the MacPherson report to determine if there were matters that should be followed up.
"The Crown Law department will go through all the evidence and through the report. If they see anything that they feel warrants further investigation they will refer them to the DPP. I'll be instructing the Crown Solicitor office to get into that straight away and hopefully it won't be a long process," Mr Wortley said.
Mr Wortley said that he was in a ‘dilemma’ as, on the advice of the Crown Solicitor, neither he nor his department had read the report, although he had read its judgement.
Mr Wortley announced on July 6 that the $1.5 million, two-year investigation into the conduct of members of the Burnside Council would be scrapped as it was not in the public interest to pursue it further. The contents of the report have been suppressed.
A Supreme Court judgement last month had ruled that it was "in the public interest for Mr MacPherson to complete his inquiry and report to the Minister, as soon as practicable."
Speaking on ABC radio, Mr Wortley said that some good news had come from the ashes of the investigation.
We have been working with the Local Government Association over the last couple of weeks and we are going to identify areas of the Local Government Act which need to be addressed," he said.
Mr Wortley said the government would consider giving greater power to local government to handle future allegations of corruption.