Monday, 23 November 2020
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has cautiously welcomed news today of the reinstatement of the seven remaining suspended Councillors to Armidale Regional Council, believing strict controls enforced by an order to be issued by the Minister for Local Government will aid in restoring democracy to the community.
Mr Marshall said the returning Councillors were now on notice and would be scrutinised closely by the community and Local Government Minister, after they return to duty on 12 December this year.
“The Councillors have been given a second chance and will have nine months to prove to the community they’ve learned lessons from the past and will now work together to rebuild the organisation and the community’s trust and confidence in the council,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Administrator has done a good job at identifying the problems and setting the course for recovery and the returning Councillors must now be united and provide strong and effective leadership for the whole region and never allow the problems of the past to emerge again – we cannot afford it.”
Mr Marshall said the Minister proposed to issue a Performance Improvement Order (PIO) on the council, which would curtail some of the powers of the elected members and lay down a clear roadmap for what has to be done in order to get the council back on track.
“The Minister will appoint an independent financial controller for the council, meaning, while the councillors are back at work, all decisions around the financial running of council will be managed by that individual.
“Also, a temporary adviser would be put in to strengthen Council’s governance framework and monitor the conduct and performance of the governing body.
“In order to instigate a period of stable management, the ability for Councillors to terminate the newly appointed General Manager’s contract would be removed.
“All these are measures the community should have confidence in and it’s up to the Councillors now to come back together and provide the leadership they were elected for.
“These checks and balances would be imposed until the next election, in September next year.”
Mr Marshall thanked Interim Administrator Viv May and and Acting General Manager John Rayner for their diligence working through the many issues plaguing the council.
“Untangling the complicated web of operational, financial and staffing problems has been no mean feat and I thank both men on behalf of the community for their efforts,” Mr Marshall said.
“This entire process of Administration has been about restoring public confidence back into Local Government. I am cautiously optimistic that moving forward the seven returning Councillors will have learnt from their mistakes and will work in a way which is productive and befitting elected officials.”
The period of Administration ends on 11 December. As required by the Local Government Act, the Minister has provided the council with a notice of intention to issue the PIO and given it seven days to make a submission.
The Minister must consider any submission before making a final determination on whether to issue the PIO. It will be considered in conjunction with the interim administrator’s final report which is due to be lodged on 27 November.