Shire councillors get inquiry report
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
A DRAFT report on a long-running WA Government inquiry into the Shire of Toodyay has been sent to all councillors for comment before the findings are released in State Parliament.
The draft excludes any formal recommendations or matters the State Solicitor’s Office may seek to prosecute.
New Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst received the 44-page draft on July 21 and released it to all councillors and senior staff for a workshop discussion immediately prior to last month’s council meeting.Read more
“In a broad sense, the council has formulated its position,” Ms Haslehurst said.
It would go to a special council meeting for final approval on Tuesday August 11.
A 21-day State Government deadline was to expire on Monday August 10 but the shire sought an extension to Friday August 14 to accommodate the special council meeting.
The draft was also likely to be discussed on Wednesday August 5 when WA Local Government Minister David Templeman was due to visit Toodyay to meet councillors and senior staff at the invitation of Shire President Rosemary Madacsi.
It is understood former shire CEO Stan Scott – who moved to York last year – was also sent a copy of the inquiry draft report and is expected to respond independently.
The latest move follows a year-long inquiry by three Perth investigators into shire operations and affairs over seven years.
The inquiry was called to investigate “reasonable suspicion” that the shire may have breached local government laws.
It followed departmental criticism of Mr Scott in an official letter that he sought to withhold from councillors, prompting the heated resignation of newly elected councillor Di Granger in March 2018 amid allegations of bullying.
That incident – including a scathing email Mr Scott sent to former Cr Granger on a Saturday afternoon – is part of the inquiry.
Other matters investigated included the loss of more than $550,000 in a failed legal action against two former civic leaders, other botched shire prosecutions that cost ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars, declarations of interest by elected members, unlawful rates that had to be quashed by a State tribunal, “the culture within the shire” and “any other matter that comes to the person’s attention during the inquiry”.
The three investigators spent most of last year interviewing Toodyay ratepayers, examining shire records and questioning staff and councillors.
Ms Haslehurst said local government officials would examine the shire’s response to the draft report to decide if any changes should be made before sending it to the department’s Director General.
A final report would then go to the Minister to table in State Parliament.
Parliament is due to sit for three weeks next month, two weeks in October and three weeks in November.
Ms Haslehurst said it was likely that the final public report would also be placed on the shire website.
“My approach is to be as open and transparent as possible,” she said.