Monitor set for long stay


A MONITOR to investigate and report on governance at Frankston Council has finally been named by the state government three months after the Andrews government first announced state intervention at council.

Prue Digby, the former CEO of the Victorian Building Authority, will begin attending council meetings in January and report back to Victorian Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz.

The Labor state government announced last week that Ms Digby will monitor council and councillors’ conduct for an 18-month spell until June 2019, well beyond the next state election date of November 2018.

Ratepayers will foot the bill for the monitor.

Monitors at other councils have individually cost about $1200 a day.

Council CEO Dennis Hovenden and Cr Brian Cunial, then mayor, named themselves as complainants to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate when it was announced by the state government the inspectorate had recommended a monitor be appointed at Frankston Council.

“The request by Frankston Council for the appointment of a monitor to turn around the dysfunction and governance issues is a positive step towards councillors meeting community expectations and I was happy I was able to assist,” Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke said in a statement last week.

“With record state Labor government investment and projects rolling out in Frankston it is important that our local government [council] is sharing and supporting our community’s future vision for Frankston.”

The state government says concerns about councillor conduct at public meetings “and instances of council meetings being cancelled or delayed have raised concerns about the proper functioning of council”.

Ms Digby will attend public council meetings and meetings and briefings held in private by councillors.

The current mayor Cr Colin Hampton welcomed Ms Digby’s appointment as monitor.

“Council will take this announcement as an opportunity to reset, adjust and move forward in a new direction towards making a positive difference for Frankston City ratepayers, residents, visitors and businesses,” Cr Hampton said in a statement.

“Since the initial announcement three months ago in September, council has undertaken an internal review which has already improved governance processes and procedures.

“The monitor will also support the council to ensure any necessary improvements are made to governance processes which will become embedded in the council.”

Ms Kairouz said the monitor will “keep a close eye” on council to “ensure it is acting in the best interests of ratepayers”.

“Ms Digby has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the local government sector and will be ideally placed to assist and report on the function of council,” Ms Kairouz said.

The Local Government Minister can stand down councillors and instruct council on governance direction on the advice of the monitor.

Councils can be suspended with all elected councillors stood down and government administrators brought in to run and manage council operations.

First published in the Frankston Times – 18 December 2017

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