What we experienced in Monash Council via the recent sell-off of Council’s aged care facilities (and later on in the coming budget planning cycle), is not unique to Monash.
Beechworth ratepayers are facing a similar situation with their Indigo Shire Council, who is deciding to approve funding for a project for building the Council double headquarters in two sites. Beechworth ratepayers want to know the expenditure amount and the underlying budget details of expenditure breakdown. They started asking questions in December last year, and their Council is building a transparency barrier to elude or delay answers to the public questions asked:
The transparency barrier is artfully disguised as a procedural compliance to LG Act in deciding to fund the project (see below).
It is a Yes Minister approach to constraining community engagement to block access to information underpinning a Council’s decision making matter. Ratepayers can change this game by using:
- The new Local Government Performance Reporting Framework (LGPRF) to produce a Report Card that evaluates the governance performance of this decision making matter;
- The Good Governance Guide to evaluate which of its 7 governance principles have been breached, which would then lead to the identification of underlying Local Government Act violations. An example of this Governance Evaluation report is like the one developed by the Monash community.
Ratepayers/residents can present the Report Card and Governance Evaluation report to their Council for an explanation of poor governance and if and when needed, activate escalation to higher authorities to report the community’s evidence based dissatisfaction of their Council’s lacking governance performance. This capability empowers a local community to increasing pressure for change in Council to come clean with transparency of their decision making and seriously taking accountability for their behaviors, decisions and actions.