Sunday, December 17, 2006

Welcome to the Danger zone

December is the time when most radical changes in government policy occur removed from public scrutiny and review

December, the period in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday season and the time when governments schedule policy changes to limit or avoid public scrutiny or review.

The City of Melbourne is renowned for using this media free and period for making decisions that are likely to cause embarrassment or create a community backlash. It is a period where the community's eye and attention is focused on other interests and Local Council is the furthest thing from their mind. Its the time when governments make their worst decisions.

The City of Melbourne is no exception. Planning approval for the redevelopment of the Hilton in East Melbourne is on the agenda and so we are told is a major restructure within the town hall. Although we can not find any details of the report on the Council's agenda papers. The City Council is no longer open and transparent with many decisions being made under delegation, behind closed doors and removed from the public eye.

Were are told that the senior management is about to undergo a major reshuffle of responsibilities.

Linda Weatherson, City of Melbourne's Governance Director of Corportate Performance has been side line and removed from the Governance portfolio (Something that is seen as a bonus as Ms Weatherson, along with former City Council legal Officer Alison Lyon, presided over the worst administration in Melbourne City Council's recent history resulting in an Ombudsman inquiry that touched on the heart of corruption and poor governance within the City Council)

Terry Makings has become the most influential and overloaded Director taking on all City Council statutory obligations.

Hayden Cock has been given an expanded portfolio of corporate affairs having extended beyond the media propaganda role he was first appointed to.

Rob Adams continues to design his job and although he is on extended leave based in Italy funded by the City of Melbourne is responsible for urban design and major projects.

The fact still remains that the City Council is top heavy and in need of serious review and reform. The number for directors should be cut back. Directors remuneration should be removed from the enterprise bargaining process and tighter controls placed on remuneration packages and bonus payments.

Question why has this information been withheld from public view? The proposed changes require changes in the legal authorisation and delegations which are governed by statute.

The public have a right to know the full details of the proposed changes and the likely effect it will have on the delivery of services and costs of Council. The City Council administration must be open and transparent if we are to eliminate corruption from City Hall.

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