WA minister David Templeman says it important to restore confidence in the City of Perth council.The scandal-plagued and suspended City of Perth council will be probed by experienced lawyer Anthony Power.
The inquiry will have the powers of a royal commission and can recommend the council be sacked or reinstated.
Operations between October 1, 2015 and March 1, 2018 will be examined to determine whether there was a failure to properly perform its functions, and what action may be required to ensure future good governance.
Local Government Minister David Templeman told reporters on Tuesday he would not pre-empt the findings but said it was important WA’s leading local government provided an example for other councils.
“People have watched this saga go on for a number of years … now is the time to do the investigation and restore confidence.”
Opposition spokesman Tony Krsticevic wants Mr Power to extend his investigation to March 2 when the council was suspended.
He said the minister himself had raised concerns after reports a council member removed a box or boxes from chambers that day.
“It’s also come to my attention that there may also have been a councillor who was doing some shredding … and also the fact that the security guards were removed on Friday when they were there on Thursday vetting everything that was going on.”
Three commissioners were appointed last month to run the city during the council’s suspension, which came after the chief executive and his replacement took stress leave amid council infighting and reports of a toxic culture.
Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has separately faced controversy over her failure to disclose travel and accommodation gifts.
The WA government will pay for the inquiry but Mr Templeman says some money may be recouped if there are adverse findings against the council.
Mr Power will begin his inquiry on May 1, including public hearings, with a final report expected in one year.
It is the fifth local government inquiry panel in the past 20 years.
WHO IS ANTHONY POWER?
– Has worked in almost all courts and tribunals, the Corruption and Crime Commission, royal commissions, and as a mediator
– Was counsel assisting for the inquiry into the Shire of Exmouth
– Is an adjunct professor at Notre Dame and Murdoch universities
– Has practised at Francis Burt Chambers since 1999
– His salary during the inquiry will be equivalent to a district court judge.
Australian Associated Press