Archive for category Poor Conduct
MONASH COUNCIL: GOVERNANCE IN CRISIS
by Monash Ratepayers
Recently Monash Mayor Lake stirred up attention about conduct management issues during public meetings, of course blaming others and not himself. As the interest is about conduct, it is time that MRI evaluates the governance performance of Mayor Lake. This evaluation examines two areas:
- The hypocrisy, conflict of interest and governance issues in the Mayor’s per project – Alliance for Gambling Reform, which he discretionary gave away $25K to this MAV lead project with no accountability of outcome indicators and knowing that the project duplicates the State’s wee developed and active gambling program. Simply put he cost-shifted our money to a MAV project.
- The Mayor’s issues of hypocrisy, conflict of interest and lacking governance performance.
(1) Monash Gambling Program Management Performance:
City of Monash Public Health Approach to Gambling Policy Statement 2016 – 2020
has been produced under the banner “ Access & Equity Framework 2015-2020”
- So how can Monash exclude certain groups from receiving funding if Council adheres to its own criteria of Access and Equity?
- Contradictions and Discrimination within City of Monash Public Health Approach to Gambling Policy Statement 2016-2020 refer to Agenda Item 2.2. Attachment 1. 31 May 2016 Council Meeting
“1.12 Council will request that all venue operators make a financial contribution to services and agencies that address the impacts of gambling in the Monash community, for example Gambler’s Help, community health or neighbourhood houses services (Page 17)
“2.7 Council will maintain independence from the gambling industry. Council will not accept financial contributions from gambling venues and will not promote community grants or initiatives offered by local poker machine venues (Page 18)
“4.3 Council staff will not run Council and community events, activities, programs and social outings in venues that have EGMs
“4.4 Through the Monash Community Grants Program, Council will not fund community groups who meet in venues that have EGMs
“4.5 Council will not provide community grants, funding, sponsorship, Council facilities, publicity or promotion for community groups/organisations that promote gambling. All relevant Council guidelines will align with this policy position
“4.6 Council will not support community groups participating in gambling activity and will seek to increase the awareness of community groups to the harms of gambling through information provision and referral to non-gambling community activities and services”
Unintended consequence? Many groups are involved in Community Raffles or conduct their own raffles, and these are deemed a form of gambling!
- Passed (without due diligence) by Monash Council on Tuesday 31 May 2016, the 2016-2020 Gambling Policy Statement does not allow Monash Council to accept money derived from gambling activities. *It is noted that Cr Davies and Cr Zographos did not support the policy.
- Treasury and Finance distributes Community Support Fund money to Councils that has been received from revenue generated from Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) in hotels
- Therefore Monash Council can neither accept nor distribute Community Support Fund (CSF) money previously received from Treasury and Finance as Monash would be ignoring its own policy.
- Therefore the amounts of at least $118,000 [and $25,000?] marked as income from State Government Grants Community Programs in the Council Budget for 2015-16 cannot be received into Council’s coffers. Nor can any other monies from similar grants be received where the money has come via gambling.
- Therefore it is pointless for Council to threaten groups with not providing grants to groups meeting in venues with EGMs as Council will not be funding any groups via this revenue source anyway.
- In addition – there is a no proven correlation between the “problem (pokies) gambler” and community group membership, where group meets in a venue that has EGMs.
(2) LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE ISSUES
MAYOR LAKE’S HIDDEN AGENDA
The aim of the proposed exclusion (from funding) of Community Groups currently using rooms in Pokies Venues (most often offered to them free of charge) it seems is to bribe community groups into using Council Facilities at Community Rates; (see pages 98 onwards for rates per hour in Budget 2015-16)……and to ensure a pool of needy groups willing to utilise Cr Geoff Lake’s dream 6000 sq m Library-hub proposed for the Central Car Park Site.
Not obvious to many is that the development of the proposed 5 storey Library Hub means selling this prime land of 7114 sq m in Glen Waverley and therefore removes the entire Central Car Park. It’s sale will allow adjacent high rise towers of 10, 15 (or higher) storeys between Coleman Parade and Railway Parade North; between Kingsway and Springvale Road. (It should be noted that multiple community consultations confirmed that residents wanted this land left as open space and car parking, underground. There was no business case for such a library – especially on this site)
Lake’s preference to support endless construction in the Glen Waverley Activity Centre and to service developers whilst denying community’s wishes, is concerning. Especially as he has revealed he has accepted at least one overseas trip (to Japan and China) funded by property developer/ financier Blackrock Real Estate Asia Fund II and Blackrock Real Estate Europe Fund II (also a substantial investment choice, at approx. $80 million, of Vision Super*). (*see Link 2. below)
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 1. Cr Geoff Lake is a Director on the Board of Muncipal Association of Victoria [MAV] . He is on the MAV Board while he remains as a Councillor at Monash Council
Via the 26 April 2016 Council Meeting Cr Geoff Lake proposed and coerced Monash Council to commit $25,000 to support his own self-serving “creation”, The Alliance for Gambling Reform , (AFGR) even though, concurrent with the Alliance’s inception, on 30/6/2015 Council Meeting Item 7.3, Cr Lake is recorded as stating it would not have a financial impact on Monash Council if Council supported a Memorandum of Understanding with AFGR.
Not surprisingly, Cr Lake is the self-appointed Chair of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. The website www.pokiesplayyou.org.au clearly shows that its platform is specifically focused against gambling via electronic gaming machines at pokies venues despite this being only one of many forms of legal gambling.
The Alliance’s donations page https://gx.nationbuilder.com/donate confirms:
“The Alliance for Gambling Reform is proudly independent. We do not, and will not accept money from any organisation or individual with a financial interest in any part of the gambling industry.”
“We are 100% funded by donations from individuals and foundations that do not have any ties with the gambling industry We are not affiliated with any political party.”
No budget is apparent for why AFGR is entitled to this $25,000 and due to the criteria above, it is understood that Monash Ratepayers’ money (not CSF money) will be diverted to this organisation purely to secure Cr Lake’s relevance as a Director of the MAV. In short, Cr Lake siphons money “out” of Monash Council to the MAV (now in control of AFGR) in order to replicate services offered and delivered already via the State Government’s Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.
*$25,000 is a considerable sum to hand over to an external organisation not based in Monash. In comparison,very small amounts are provided to worthy Monash Community Groups and only after time-consuming grant applications have been submitted. *It is considered this is an inappropriate donation especially in the light of Neighbourhood Watch for Monash residents has had its funding cut; Waverley War Widows will not be provided grant if they meet in RSL! Is this ignorance or irony – when Sir John Monash, the Council’s namesake, was a revered returned serviceman?
Providing this money to AFGR contradicts Monash’s own guidelines:-
“(Monash) Council does not fund projects that duplicate existing public or private programs”.
So how can Council substantiate funding The Alliance for Gambling Reform?
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 2. Cr Lake is a Director of Vision Super Pty Ltd due to his nomination to that Board by the MAV. He is also the Chair of the Investment Committee of Vision Super . He is a Director of Pooled Super Pty Ltd. NOTE Vision Super is the default superannuation fund of Council Employees including Monash employees.
Cr Lake boasts, as representative of Vision Super from June 2009 – Present (7 years), that he is responsible for “developing new investment beliefs, drafting new investment policies”, and “as a director of the fund I am jointly responsible as part of the board for shaping strategy, overseeing investments, governance, performance, compliance, risk management and stakeholder relationships.”
As Chair of the Vision Super Investment Committee he supports Aristocrat Leisure Limited as one of their top 20 stockholdings. Aristocrat Leisure Limited is one of the world’s leading providers of gaming solutions and one of the largest manufacturers of poker machines in the world.. licensed in 240 gaming jurisdictions in 90 countries.
*DIRECT HYPOCRISY with regard to his role as Chair of Alliance for Gambling Reform – via Vision Super Cr Lake invests millions of dollars in shares in Aristocrat, the producer of EGM’s and yet campaigns against them? Go figure?
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND HYPOCRISY
LINK 3. , Cr Lake is member of the Administrative Committee of the Australian Labor Party [ALP]
ALP receives donations from Unions – for example, those involved in construction of all these towers! and from gambling revenue derived from (ALP owned) Labor Clubs. Pokies owned and operated by the CFMEU or the ACT ALP through their licensed gambling clubs.The ALP State Conference 2016 will be held at the Moonee Valley Racecourse –oops Cr Lake – a gambling venue!
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S HYPOCRISY
From various other benefactors Cr Lake has accepted free entry to the Men’s Semi Final and Final Australian Open 2015, AFL Grand Final 2015, Cricket, Oaks Day Flemington , i.e each Sportsbet / TAB giants. Is this elitist snobbery? Practice what you preach Geoff. Lead by example not by threats.
MAYOR GEOFF LAKE’S HYPOCRISY and NON COMPLIANCE
Mayor Geoff Lake should adhere to Monash Council’s Access and Equity policy– his latest orders imposed on Councillors and Public on 31 May 2016, contravene basic human rights. Threatening members of the public voicing disapproval with Removal; being Charged with an Offence and Fines of 2 Penalty Units (i.e. $300) shows his frustration at not making it through to being a Barrister or Magistrate! These are conditions imposed by Magistrates for breaches of Court Orders.
His manic controlling behaviour, emulating dictatorship, was highlighted on 31 May 2016 as he continued to humiliate Councillors whilst treating them like his children as he forced them to sign his ridiculous onerous codes of conduct (whilst excluding himself from these actions). His despotic “Hands on Head” requirement of Councillors, instead of allowing hand raising, was amplified by his refusal to demonstrate the action when asked to do so by attending journalist ….because HE FOUND IT TOO DEMORALISING. Is it unreasonable to expect that he’ll be forcing Councillors to kiss his feet next?
“Principle 1: Human Rights
Human rights are the universal rights of all people to be treated with respect, equality and dignity. The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 (The Charter) protects and promotes human rights by recognising that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Monash Council observes the rights incorporated in the Charter when making decisions, creating local laws, developing policies and strategies and providing services.”
MORE CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR:
- Espousing transparency yet REFUSAL to Video Council Meetings as these would incriminate himself.
- INSTIGATION of AUDIO taping of Council Meetings for his (GL’S) ears only – not the other Councillors. Destruction of the tape prior to the next council meeting! The Point?
BACKGROUND – COUNCILLORS CODE OF CONDUCT PASSED SEPT 2013
- Act honestly
- Not mislead
- Exercise reasonable care, and diligence
- Accept scrutiny
- Ensure resources are used prudently; solely in the public interest
Cr Geoff Lake failed on ALL counts.
CR GEOFF LAKE ‘S MULTIPLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST; NON COMPLIANCE AND HYPOCRISY CANNOT BE IGNORED. HE DOES NOT REPRESENT THE COMMUNITY. DEMONSTRABLE SELF-INTEREST DEEMS HIM UNFIT TO REMAIN AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF MONASH.
Prepared by Lynnette Saloumi, President Monash Ratepayers Chapter of Eastern Ratepayers Inc Lynnette.firstname.lastname@example.org
We just checked the ex Mayor’s personal blogging website and twitter and he still claims to be the Mayor when the position has been terminated. The question is “are ratepayers paying for two Mayors in Monash Council?” Maybe two heads are better than one?
Not only our Councillors don’t commit to good governance practice in matters of using official Council information on personal website + social media and now this ludicrous claim of having two Mayors in Monash ! Great Mickey Mouse performance Mayors of Monash!
The 2014 performance result of Council is just released – click here for details. Under bad leaders, the Council has gone backwards in its performance during the last 3 years, especially 2014. In any year, the leadership of Councillors, especially the Mayor, is the primary cause of Council’s poor performance. As part of a bad leadership culture, it is easier to blame it on others, which still goes on – see Council official response to explaining the bad results:
The aged care matter only highlighted what are already growing governance issues in Council’s decision making. If not for the high impact protests, people think that the outcome would be worst – the community pressure at least made Councillors choose a buyer that is non for profit and not for the highest bidder, as originally would have happened as money was the reason for selling. The experience for the first Clarinda aged care facility sold did not have a good outcome for the aged residents, because the community were unaware and did not respond to the sale decision. Councillors thought selling the Monash & Elizabeth aged care facilities would be a piece of cake, but the consequences turned otherwise. The community did not disfavor the decision to sell, provided there was a business case and if community participation in decision making was fostered.
No instead, the Mayor and Councillors refused to disclose the business case (because they have not considered all other options and hence there is no business case); closed too many decision point meetings that raises too many transparency issues and their community engagement behaviours and actions were not sincere and were terse. Simply put, the aged care matter only magnified the real causes of Council’s performance issues – ie lack of good governance values in Council’s leadership behaviors, community engagement and decision making – the evidence revealed in the community’s report – Poor Governance by Monash Council 16 Jan 2014. Poor leadership is another main cause. The aged care incident only manifested the symptoms that reveal about our city leadership quality and how Councillors govern decision making that continues to fail to including community participation; disclosing best value business case, fostering transparent decision discussions; showing unbiased decision making, etc.
Disengaging Council: The Evidence
All Councillors, under the leadership of the prevailing Mayor, are primarily responsible for performance in community consultation and advocacy as they are the front end people who make or break these service levels. However Council staff are more influential in affecting customer service and overall council direction as its their operational and management competencies that sets the service levels in these areas – good compliment to staff. Unfortunately, staff are often collateral damage as a result of Councillors’ leadership and/or organisational incompetence.
Worst Service Performers:
Finally, the truth is out , that Monash Council’s decision making sucks – it commonly known, although Councillors refuse to believe, that their decision making culture fosters biased decision making, often incited by party politics and group-think premeditated directions, lacks best value qualification, transparency and implementation achievement accountability. Keep closing Council meetings and this performance will worsen their performance further and we shall see how many more closed meetings will be advocated by the Mayor this year.
The Tues Council Meeting discussion on item 7.2 was one that brought personal bickering and party politics’ abuses into Council debates, definitely breaching the code of conduct principles , which are:
1. acting with integrity;
2. exercising their responsibilities impartially in the interests of the local community;
3. not making improper use of their position to advantage or disadvantage any person;
4. avoiding conflicts between their public duties as Councillors and their personal interests and obligations;
5. acting honestly and avoid making oral or written statements and avoid actions that may mislead a person;
6. treating all persons with respect and will show due respect for the opinions, beliefs, rights and responsibilities of other Councillors, council officers and other people.
Rightly or wrongly, the Mayor is perceived by many in the community as unethical, abusing his position now to push forward his political incited and personally motivated motion amendments and commentaries into becoming a headline news in Council Monash website.
MRI Letter to Monash Councillors
Your performance in Tues Council meeting went reasonably well, until you had to bring personal bickering and party politics’ abuses into Council affairs. By doing this, you also showed contempt to the code of conduct through your disrespectful and what we see as pre-orchestrated behaviours. This is not the first time for many of you, you have often repeated many similar incidents in past.
Is it because you are bored of mandate debates and like some entertainment for all, making the Council meeting a circus show?
While you achieved entertainment and political scoring, you failed in meeting the Council meeting experience expectations of your constituents. We will continue to progressively monitor your governance performance in future Council meetings and other public activities.
To see full details of report card, click here.
When a Mayor uses his private blog as an official communication channel for Council affairs (see the Monash Bulletin, Jan 2014, Page 3, that is certainly a deliberate violation of good governance. Monash Council has confirmed that the Mayor’s private blog is not a Council resource. This incident may suggest that the Mayor may have breached the Local Government (LG) Act’s Section 76BA – General Councillor conduct principles and Section 76D Misuse of position; and Council Administration has been slack in their corporate governance responsibility to allow the mix up of private and public communication resources. As a Mayor who is in a legal profession and has Board experiences, not realizing this act of conflict of interest is not quite a convincing excuse.
Source: Page 3 of Monash Bulletin, Jan 2014
In the same newsletter (see Page 6), another Councillor has also possibly breached the LG) Act’s Section 76BA – General Councillor conduct principles– Section 76D Misuse of position when he has been perceived publicly to directly and indirectly promote his personal allegiance for the ALP, with subtle contexts to bag the current state government and attempting to influence readers on certain political party / state government support in coming elections via Monash communique. This is a seasoned Councillor doing this sort of thing, not a new and naive Councillor.
Source: Page 6 of Monash Bulletin, Jan 2014
Should the community deserve what seems to be manipulative leadership behaviours to prevail and have Monash Council affairs indicated and influenced by dominating Councillors’ preference for political party support? It looks as though Monash Council is starting the ALP’s state election campaign using ratepayers funded resources. Is this the ethical and quality standard of political leadership and advocacy that the ALP wants to be associated with? We hope not, ie if they want public creditability and hence a fair chance to win the State Election in Monash wards.