THERE appears to be two conflicting schools of thought about whether the new Toodyay Shire Council is doing a good job or not.
Opponents claim a new council majority elected last October is being led by the nose by a new shire CEO.
This is what happened last time, they say, and nothing has been learned from a damning State inquiry that made 25 adverse findings against an inept previous council and its disgraced former CEO.
Others say the WA Local Government Department and its Perth-based Director General are happy with Toodyay’s new shire leadership as it strives to clean up the mess left by the previous mob.
One side seems to be focussed purely on process, and the other on outcomes.Read more
Despite heated words exchanged at recent council meetings, there is no tangible evidence that the State regulator is alarmed by the new council’s performance.
In fact, Director General Duncan Ord last month praised Toodyay’s new civic leaders for their response to fixing a disaster that was allowed to fester unchecked prior to last year’s local government elections.
It’s hard to imagine that Mr Ord would find fault with the process for selecting former City of Perth commissioner Andrew Hammond to head a recommended governance review of the Shire of Toodyay.
If anyone can sort out the mess created by the previous council, surely it must be someone of Mr Hammond’s calibre.
The specialist local government management consultant was appointed by the WA Government in 2018 to “restore good governance to the City of Perth” after years of public scandal undermined the State’s biggest local government authority.
Mr Hammond appears well qualified to cut through some of the petty cynicism and sheer bloody-mindedness that has bedevilled our shire in recent years.
The tone of increasingly belligerent attacks on Toodyay’s new council suggests a hidden agenda to sack its elected members and replace them with a State-appointed administrator.
That’s not what Toodyay electors voted for at last October’s council elections.
Nor is there likely to be widespread community support to merge five local councils into a single Avon Valley regional authority, as proposed to a WA Parliamentary Select Committee in 2019.
Many Toodyay electors would see that as a surrender of control over local affairs to a remote administration based in Northam.
Whether “dancing on the head of a pin” or genuine local government reform, the answer is not to be found in sarcastic public attacks on brow-beaten Toodyay councillors who, after all, are basically volunteers who give up their time for very little reward.
Just let them get on with it – please.