Victoria’s peak organisation for local government has rejected a recommendation by the state’s anti-corruption watchdog to take recruitment of CEOs out of the hands of councils.
As reported by Government News, IBAC in July released a damning report on corruption involving councillors and property developers, which found two former councillors accepted combined benefits of more than $1 million for promoting the interests of a developer.
IBAC’s report on Operation Sandon said that local government CEOS have the advantage of being able to observe integrity breaches involving councillors, but in this case their ability to deal with breaches was limited by the fact they were directly employed by councillors.
IBAC called for reform to strengthen the independence of CEOs to ensure they are more empowered to respond to poor behaviour by councillors, including that the recruitment, employment and remuneration of a CEO should be determined by an independent committee.
Councils must retain autonomy
In a full response to the report released issued last week, the president of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) David Clark said MAV welcomed reform to the local government sector, but said it was crucial that councils maintained their autonomy.
The relationship between an elected council and their CEO was critical and fundamental to the operation of every council, Cr Clark said.
The local government sector cannot support a recommendation impacting a council’s ability to recruit and manage the employment and performance of its CEO
MAV president David Clark
“The local government sector cannot support a recommendation impacting a council’s ability to recruit and manage the employment and performance of its CEO,” he said.
“This would result in a fundamental change to the role and function of an elected council.
“As the employed elected concils must have responsibility for decisions about all of the employment arrangements of their CEOs.”
Don’t sideline us, MAV says
He also said MAV has requested that it be included in the body tasked with coordinating implementation of the report’s recommendations, including any planning reforms, to ensure their local government’s technical expertise and local knowledge isn’t lost.
“Councils decide 99 per cent of planning applications locally, which means they are the subject matter experts,” Cr Clark said.
“They appreciate the myriad of opportunities to improve the planning system and have requested that the planning minister and department partner with the MAV and the local government sector.”