Friday, February 17, 2006

Beyond the Law

Singer again in the media spotlight this time over planning breaches

Melbourne City Council's Deputy Lord Mayor, Garry Singer, is again in the media spotlight following revelations that he and a company he works for breached local planning laws and commenced building without a planning permit.

Herald-Sun Friday Feb 17, 2006

More and more information comes to light that indicates that John So had made a serious error of judgment when he selected Gary Singer to be his no 2. Most people close to the City Council are of the belief that Gary Singer should resign and Catherine NG take over as John So's Deputy. The problem is if Singer does resign, under the rules established by the State Government, the Melbourne City Council would have to hold a City wide by-election to replace Singer if he stood down. Costing the City 100's of thousands of dollars. Garry Singer effectively is holding the City Council to ransom.

Clearly something has to be done. The State Government against all advice opted for a direct election system but in doing so failed to properly consider issues related to filling any casual vacancies. Under the current rules if Singer resigns within 6 months of the next election the City Council can elect a a fellow councilor to fill any vacancy in the Deputy Lord Mayor's position but if the position is made vacant before 6 month then a by-elections has to be held.

The system of filling casual vacancies need review and changing. It is incumbent on Local Government Minister, Candy Broad, to change the City of Melbourne Act to permit the City Council to appoint a replacement. Failing that the Direct election system should be abandoned.

The Herald Sun reports "Cr Singer last year pleaded guilty to financial misconduct as a solicitor.
He admitted to withholding 116 cheques totaling $154,000, some for up to five years. The money should have been paid to barrister and professional witnesses. The Legal Profession Tribunal fined Cr Singer $10,000 with $8000 costs.

In 1999, he was found guilty of professional misconduct for "grossly excessive" overcharging of a client involved in a personal injuries case.

The latest revelations raise more doubts as to his suitability to remain in office.

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