A local government inspectorate to improve the capability and integrity of West Australian councils is probable after a long-running inquiry into the Perth City Council.
The review was commissioned in April 2018 after a series of upheavals involving elected members and administrative staff culminated in the council’s suspension on 2 March 2018.
The four-volume report of the inquiry, designed to restore public confidence in the city’s administration, was tabled in State Parliament this week.
It described a culture characterised by “self-interest, complacency, lack of accountability, lack of transparency and a lack of effective leadership”.
WA’s capital city council should have been “the benchmark for local government governance and leadership standards,” the report found.
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’s 350 recommendations were prepared against the background of the McGowan Government’s ongoing review of the Local Government Act – and many of them complement already canvassed reforms.
These include the creation of a single, mandatory and comprehensive code of conduct for all council members and employees of local governments, ongoing professional development for council members and executive staff, and changes to the regulation of the disclosure of conflicts and financial interests by council members and staff.
Local Government Minister David Templeman said the recommendations “are broadly supported” by the State Government and will feed into the Local Government Act Review process.
The report has been referred to the city council, which has 35 days to advise on what it has done, or proposes to do, to give effect to the recommendations.