Local Government Minister Paul Omodei has congratulated the Cockburn community for giving itself a fresh start in the local government elections to create a new Cockburn City Council.
“The electors clearly expressed their desire to break with the unfortunate events of the past and in doing so the people have restored the reputation of their community,” Mr Omodei said.
“It is a great demonstration of the value of the democratic process when decisive action was needed to renew the community and its local government.”
Mr Omodei said he would be happy to meet with new Mayor Stephen Lee to discuss any matters he wished to raise, including the question of Cockburn paying for the cost of the inquiry which led to the dismissal of the previous council.
However, this was an issue that could only be dealt with properly in the context of the council’s 2001-02 budget.
“I have already told the council that I am prepared to receive a submission based on their budget position next year, but I am not prepared to concede the principle of the matter,” the Minister said.
“I appreciate that residents don’t like to see their money squandered by errant councils, but most people realise that ultimately they must accept the responsibility for their local government.
“In principle, there is no difference between paying for an inquiry and paying the consequences when a council spends money unlawfully, is sued, and is ordered to pay damages and costs.
“The State Government provides a great deal of advice, support and back-up to councils through the Local Government Department at no cost to them to ensure they can keep themselves out of trouble.
“It is only when councils refuse to seek advice or reject the advice given and wilfully proceed in unlawful or improper directions that the cost of the inquiry is imposed on the local government.
“The legislation providing for councils to pay went through Parliament unopposed, so the responsibility to pay cannot lightly be passed on to the general taxpayer.
“However, this is not the central issue for the Cockburn community at the present time.
“The people have accepted their responsibility and have overwhelmingly voted for a fresh start.
“I welcome their decision and wish them well in the future.
“In doing so, I express my appreciation to Commissioners Julian Donaldson, Jenny Smithson and Murray Jorgensen for the excellent way they carried out their responsibilities over the last 18 months.
“Cockburn residents enjoyed good local government under their guidance.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700