Minister gets final report on Toodyay inquiry findings
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
A REPORT on a long-running State Government inquiry into the Shire of Toodyay has been finalised and sent to WA Local Government Minister David Templeman for action.
The Minister is expected to table the inquiry’s findings in State Parliament on one of nine scheduled sitting days left this year, starting on Tuesday October 13 and ending November 19 before parliament rises for its summer recess.
An 11-month probe last year by three State Government investigators from Perth examined the operations and affairs of shire administrators and councillors over a seven-year period to December 2018.
The shire was headed during that period by former CEO Stan Scott (above, left) who resigned last April after taking two months extended sick leave at short notice just hours before the start of the council’s February meeting.
Three remaining councillors who served during the seven-year inquiry period are former shire president Brian Rayner (above, right), former shire deputy president Therese Chitty and Cr Paula Greenway.Read more
The inquiry followed 11 months of monitoring by Perth local government officials after a formal warning that the shire had shown “not only a lack of understanding of the provisions of legislation also a propensity to misinterpret other legalities and procedures”.
THE MINISTER authorised the inquiry to examine:
- the adequacy of and adherence to council policies and procedures by elected members and administration staff;
- enforcement actions undertaken by the Shire of Toodyay;
the function of the audit committee;
- declarations of interests by elected members;
- the culture within the shire, and
- any other matter that comes to the person’s attention during the inquiry.
The investigation included the loss of more than $570,000 of ratepayers’ money in a failed legal action against two former shire leaders, other botched court cases that cost tens of thousands of dollars, unlawful rates, a failed bid to sell O’Reilly’s Cottage for $530,000 and the resignation of former Cr Di Granger amid allegations of bullying.
Investigators attended council meetings, examined shire records and questioned witnesses during their probe.
A draft report on the findings was sent to the State Solicitor’s Office earlier this year to decide if any prosecutions should occur.
A confidential edited version was sent to councillors in July for comment before a final report was forwarded to the Minister.
The State will publish the findings when they are tabled in Parliament.
New Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said it was likely the findings would also be published on the shire website.