A BAN on en-bloc voting will be trialled as part of a series of anti-corruption measures set to be introduced by Kingston Council.
Kingston Council has been drafting changes to its processes in the wake of Operation Sandon, the IBAC investigation which toppled Casey Council. At their most recent council meeting, Kingston councillors agreed to trial new measures to reduce corruption risk, including to ban en-bloc voting and record individual votes in published meeting minutes. Council will also develop briefing and pre-meeting protocols, and practice notes relating to meeting procedure. Training sessions on procedure and best practice will also be scheduled.
The trial will run for four months from January 2024.
A summary of the proposed changes prepared by Kingston Council officers read that the trialled measures are “readily implemented without requiring change to the governance rules.”
“The nature of the (…) practices enables council and councillors to trial processes that the Operation Sandon report suggests enhances accountability and transparency of council decision making,” council officers wrote.
IBAC made 34 recommendations in its final Operation Sandon report.
Kingston Council ordered its own probity review while Operation Sandon was underway. Legal firm Holding Redlich looked into potential connections with individuals named in Operation Sandon, including John Woodman, Megan Schutz, former Liberal MP Lorraine Wreford, and Labor lobbyist Phil Staindl.
Holding Redlich’s released summary read “whilst some council interviewees have had dealings with the Operation Sandon identified persons, and despite some interviewees making allegations in relation to corruption and misconduct by certain councillors or officers, Holding Redlich did not find conclusive evidence of wide scale improper conduct, corrupt conduct, or misconduct. All interviewees denied ever having received financial incentives or undisclosed political donations” (“Council corruption probe findings released” The News 12/5/2021).