KINGSTON councillors have rejected a proposal to begin receiving a monthly report of policy and legislation breaches.
The report, which would have been made a public document, was suggested by Cr David Eden. The mayor Georgina Oxley and Cr Rosemary West supported Cr Eden’s proposal, but Crs Tamsin Bearsley, Ron Brownlees, Geoff Gledhill, and George Hua opposed. Crs Steve Staikos and Tamara Barth abstained from the vote, and the motion was defeated.
Cr Eden said “I don’t think this is something that is a massive new task with investigators and a tremendous amount of work, it is not that. It is a report coming back to council that identifies anything that senior management or the CEO is aware of with respect to breaches of legislation, policy, processes, procedures, or other relevant practices.”
“To ask for a report that details all the identified breaches is more than reasonable because if they are already identified, they could be being captured somewhere. If there are breaches of legislation or policies, and nobody is bothering to capture that or record that or look at how we can put together processes to stop those issues popping up again, then that’s even more alarming.”
Cr Oxley said “we have a couple of examples recently where we have council resolutions that haven’t been followed. They haven’t been minor things in a resolution, they’ve been major breaches in policy and even recently major breaches in legislation.”
“We don’t have a framework in place that makes sure councillors are informed of these issues, we just think we are being informed. I think part of the problem is it’s been shown on a number of occasions in the past few months that we are not being informed of everything. If we aren’t being informed we aren’t doing our job in ensuring this organisation operates with good governance, and we are not doing our job in managing the performance of the CEO.”
Cr Bearsley called the motion “bureaucracy at its worst”. Cr Hua said that “looking at the reports, the cost to council every year would be more than $300,000.”
“If there’s a breach, at our weekly briefing the CEO would notify us. It’s pretty straight forward,” he said.
The issue of transparency came up at council earlier this year when multiple votes on “CEO employment matters” were held behind closed doors. At the time, Cr Oxley said “the fact I can’t share serious issues with the community, and what we are doing about it, is really bad (“Serious issues at council aired behind closed doors”, The News, 3/6/20).”
Another vote on “CEO employment matters” was held behind closed doors at council’s 21 September meeting.