Archive for category Trust

Ethics & Trust Gaps in Monash Council

Cr Lake’s past to present bullying behaviour is not the only concern for the Monash Community.

He sits on many superannuation boards and a private equity and property funds company. While he is a director of Vision Super (the fund management entity that manage the Defined Superannuation funds for council employees), he also own shares.

It is common knowledge that many superannuation funds are the key players in property investments – they fund property developers. Cr Lake leads the Glen Waverley Activity Centre subcommittee, and a key influencer in directing the massive redevelopment of Glen Waverley and the sale of the Glen Waverley central car park. Obviously he did not consider any conflict of interest between his personal and council work to date, because he did not declare any potential conflict of interest, even indirect ones.

Alarm bells were ringing last year when the Mayne report (July, 2015) highlighted that Lake failed to disclose that he is pocketing $70,000 a year from his Vision Super board seat as one of two representatives of the Municipal Association of Victoria. The report said “He wouldn’t be getting this much as deputy chair without the voting support of the four ASU directors and broader support from Labor councillors in Victoria. At City of Melbourne, we have a policy that councillors appointed to board seats return any fees paid to council. This is just one of many governance issues at the MAV which Lake, as a former President and the longest serving director, needs to sort out following this damning report by the Victorian Auditor General earlier this year.”

The 26 April 2016 Waverley Leader recently reported that he is regular recipient of gifts, which the Monash community hears for the first time, including his connections with Asian targeted property investment funds, which fund property developers.

GL Conflict of Interest

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Budgets don’t lie, people do – part 3

 

1 July WL Article 3First Monash Councillors decide to sell the aged care homes. Now they are raising rates to force pensioners out of their homes. This is the most unfortunate message being perceived by elderly Monash residents.Trust & Betrayal

There is no consistency on how Monash Councillors declared conflict of interests in their decision making. It appears they just make up whatever excuses they please, to suit them. When the aged care homes were considered for sale, Cr Dimpoulous declared personal conflict of interest, in case his decision to support the sale, may jeopardize his state election candidacy in the ALP party. It is all about personal interest before the community.

Now that he is in the state election, he chooses not to declare persona conflict of interest, a choice supported by the Mayor. Given the bad track history on good governance, it is no surprise and we already can expect this sort of double standard behaviors from some of our Councillors anyway.  But making a council decision that conflicts his ALP policy allegiance , that says alot about trust and betrayal if he gets elected.  Poor Daniel Andrews being put in the shits when this sort of unethical behaviours prevail among ALP candidates. One really questions the integrity and quality of state election candidates these days. Definitely highlights the integrity quality and leadership culture of some Monash Councillors.

Betrayal

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Budgets don’t lie, but people do – Part 1

The Mayor’s budget message says “By working smarter across all areas of Council activity, we have achieved $2.8 million of annual savings which we will now use to reinvest in Monash’s physical infrastructure. I am very pleased that this extra spending has been achieved through driving internal efficiencies rather by simply hiking rates …… as a result of these comprehensive service review, I am confident that there is no other council in Victoria which is more efficiently run than this one”.

We conduct an analysis of Council’s budgets over the last 3 years:

Budgets dont lie

Since 2012, Councillors’ collective decision influence on budget planning reveals that expenditure in community development services iSpend spends incrementally reducing over the last 3 years, to allow for increases to:

  • More infrastructure capital and city development spending;
  • More overheads (CEO and corporate services) spending

This longitudinal trend reveals that Council is gearing up its cost shifting to incrementally allow for more future infrastructure and city planning spending, made more possible by the sale proceeds of its 2 aged care assets.

The charts show that over the last 3 years, Councillors’ collective influence on budget planning is fostering cost shifting. Cost shifting has objectives and is about cooking the books in budget gaming, and it does NOT represent operating efficiency. Budgets don’t lie, but people do.

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Greedy grab by councils, including Monash Council

An excellent editorial piece by the Herald Sun:

Source: Herald Sun, 18 March 2014

Herald Sun Editorial News

The heat is growing on Councils to watch their appetites for escalating rate increases beyond CPI each year.

More articles:

  1. Councils sting Victorians $2 billion in rate rises above rate of inflation over 10 years, by: John Masanauskas, Christopher Gillet from Herald Sun, March 18, 2014 5:31PM
  2. Councils are giving into relentless community demands too often by John Masanauskas from Herald Sun, March 18, 2014 12:00AM

Why your rates rise every year?

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Will Council suffer when its Councillors go for state election?

Local News 1

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What to do when Councils start to breach Privacy Act

It is distributing that some Councils are starting to be its own laws.

What is happening now

Take for example the City of Melbourne. This Council is using Google Street View-style camera monitoring of its property in inner city residential streets.

The Age reported (17 July 2013):

“A Carlton woman claims she saw a council contractor filming backyards, with the camera gazing over fences.

But the council says the $93,000 project – which it hasn’t advertised – is capturing images only of roads, council-owned buildings, street furniture and signs, and not private properties.

The SUV with pole-mounted camera, in Victoria Lane.

Linda Bond said she was in the backyard of her Princes Street house on Friday July 5 when she spotted a camera on a pole peering over her back fence.

Stepping into Victoria Lane behind her house, she saw the pole and camera was attached to a white SUV with Queensland number plates.

Miss Bond said she had received no warning the council was taking footage and regards it as a disturbing invasion of privacy.

According to a letter handed to Linda Bond, the vehicle is part of the council’s ‘earthmine imagery’ project.

She said that when she asked the two men in the vehicle what they were doing they said they were “doing some work for the council” and handed her a letter.

Click here to read more….

What is Privacy?

Extracts from Privacy Victoria

What is privacy?

‘Privacy’ means many different things to people.

It can mean protecting your personal space by not having others observe you when you are at home or in your backyard. It may be expecting not to be subject to video surveillance when you are at work. Central to all ideas of ‘privacy’ is keeping your own actions, conversations, information and movements free from public knowledge and attention.

What privacy means as a general concept is often different to what privacy means under law. Only certain types of information and activities are protected by privacy legislation.

Data protection laws

Most privacy laws are more correctly described as data protection laws, as they are limited to regulating the handling of personal information by organisations.

Knowing Your Rights

You have rights to at least 4 Privacy Laws in Victoria:

  1. The Information Privacy Act  which is a standard for the protection of the privacy of personal information by the Victorian public sector, It has 10 underlying principles governing
    • Collection – how your private information is collected
    • Use or Disclosure – A Council’s use or disclosure , which includes getting your consent to the intended use or disclosure
    • Data Quality – A Council must take reasonable steps to ensure your information collected is accurate, complete and up to date
    • Data Security – A Council must take reasonable steps to protect  your personal information it holds from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. On request by any person, your Council must take reasonable steps to let the person know, generally, what sort of personal information it holds, for what purposes, and how it collects, holds, uses and discloses that information.
    • Openness – A Council must set out in a document that clearly expressed policies on its management of your personal information, including making the document available to anyone who asks for it.
    • Access & Correction – If and when a Council  holds personal information about your, it must provide your with access to the information on request by your, except to specific conditions specified in the Information Privacy Act
    • Unique Identifiers – Your Council  must not assign unique identifiers to individuals unless the assignment of unique identifiers is necessary to enable the organisation to carry out any of its functions efficiently. It cannot  adopt as its own unique identifier of the individual that has been assigned by another organisation unless it meets the exception conditions set out in the Information Privacy Act
    • Anonymity– Wherever it is lawful and practicable, you must have the option of not identifying yourself when entering transactions with your Council
    • Transborder Data Flows – Council may transfer your personal information to someone (other than you or  a Council staff) who is outside Victoria only if it meets very specific conditions set out in the Information Privacy Act
  2. The Health Records Act 2001 (Victoria) that protects your private health information
  3. The Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth) covers the handling of your personal information (including health information) by Federal government agencies, credit reporting organisations and parts of the private sector (excluding small businesses)
  4. Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 that all Victorian government organisations (inclusive of all Councils) must act in a way that protects human rights. This includes the right to privacy.

Check to see if your Council has explicit privacy policy that refers to these laws. If the policy does not exist or lacks reference to and/or application of these laws, the policy is likely deficient.

How you can complain breaches of Privacy Laws

ComplaintsWhen you have detected a breach, lodge an official complaint to your Council with violation specifics of which laws’ sections . When you get an unsatisfactory response from your Council, lodge a complaint to the

If you need help contact your local ratepayers group or MRI to assist.

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Council under fire for spying on residents

The Age reported (10 July 2013):

“Privacy advocates have slammed Wyndham council for spying on residents’ mobile phone data and email records almost 50 times in the past three years, ”not to hunt down terrorists but to catch litterbugs and owners of unregistered pets ………………….”

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MRI says NO to defiant Councillors challenging DR reform guidelines

The Herald Sun Leader reported today that Monash Councillors “vowed to take Ms Powell on if she decided to block the rate being applied at Tuesday’s council meeting.

At the meeting, Cr Drieberg said she was proud the council was taking a stand, but Oakleigh ward Cr Theo Zographos said he thought the council was making a “huge mistake” continuing to apply the rate.

Monash is believed to be the only council that has tried to continue with the rate for the next financial year…..click here to read more“.

NO

The State’s DR guidelines aim to reduce complexity and the inconsistent applications of differential rates across all Victorian Councils, which is the right thing to do.

In MRI’s Community Governance Report (3- April), they mentioned that they will NOT support some Councillors’ proposal to challenge the Minister over the Differential Rates (DR) reform guidelines that says DR applications will exclude Electronic Game Machines (EGM).  MRI sent an email to all Councillors to reconsider their stand on this foolish decision. One Councillor sent an abrupt and rude NO reply.

MRI re-emphasized Monash Ratepayers’ stand on this matter in response to the press article:

The Monash Ratepayers Inc (MRI) does not and will not support rebellious Councillors challenging the Minister regarding the exclusion of pokies machines differential rates (DR)  in the reforming DR guidelines.  The community views the legal challenge proposal is an unfounded and knee-jerk reaction to a state wide systematic DR reform that does not support a Monash Council’s legacy operational and administrative decision, which is also contributing to the fragmentation and inconsistency of DR applications in Victorian Councils.

 The decision to pursue this Ministry challenge was developed “on the fly” hours before and even during the last Council meeting. This means there has been NO proper legislative research and cost-benefit impact analysis, including impact on budget plans. Ratepayers will not fund such a reactive and unfounded endeavor that also reflects the bipartisan political conflicts and game being played by some Councillors regarding State and Federal decisions. Council is NOT the place for such bipartisan conflicts and debates.

 The loud & clear message to all our rebellious Councillors – MONASH RATEPAYERS WILL NOT SUPPORT YOU TO CHALLENGE THE MINISTER!!!”

The key reasons MRI does not support the defiant Councillors’ decision is they did not address the following important matters in their debates:

  • The costs of such legal challenge and whether these costs are out-of-budget expenditures;
  • The administration time and hence in-house costs of people in correcting the non-compliance in budget management systems should Council lose the legal case or when the State Government enforce mandatory compliance;
  • Details of other viable funding strategies and evaluation criteria to show best value selection of the first, second, etc preference of solution alternatives;
  • Well founded details of how the Monash EGM DR program fulfils the State DR Guidelines’ objectives;
  • Specifications of KPI measures to prove viable and tangible benefits would be delivered to our problem gambling community members.

They already collected ~$200,000 and spent on over charged consultancy fees that is significantly above market rates, to understand the local problems. If the ethical moral is for real, most of this money should benefit the troubled gamblers first, not to consultants for over charged research work (which excluded solutions development).

 

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The Age reports dirty tactics in council elections …

Adam Cooper from The Age reported (18 Oct 2012):

SMEAR campaigns are running across Melbourne ahead of this month’s council elections, with the United States blamed for influencing negative tactics.

Social media, letterbox drops, accusations of party affiliation and claims of dummy candidates being run are among the tactics candidates are using to cast doubts over opponents before voters in 78 councils make their decisions next week.

Recent examples of grubby campaigning include:

    • Dirt sheets being put in letterboxes in the City of Kingston, claiming three incumbent councillors are the subject of a bullying investigation. One sheet also claims David Eden, a Year 12 student running in Kingston’s south ward, has links to the three councillors and Labor. Mr Eden said he had lodged a complaint with the Victorian Electoral Commission and with police over threatening messages he had received.
    • Candidates in the City of Casey, including four incumbent councillors, allege a raft of dummy opponents are running against them to help their opponents create the preferred mix of councillors. Casey has 85 candidates – the most of any council in the state – running across six wards. Stooge candidates are suspected in other councils across Melbourne.
    • A candidate in the City of Knox claims his Facebook page was hacked to portray him as a racist. Dean Cottier said his Facebook profile was changed to show he ‘liked’ the Aussie Pride page, which calls on migrants who don’t like Australia to “get on the next plane home”. Mr Cottier has also complained to the VEC. One of his opponents claims he had a hotmail account hacked.

Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence said those examples were “entirely inappropriate” and feared negative tactics that were common in the US had made their way into grassroots Victorian campaigns.

“There is some carry-over from what we see globally, particularly out of the US, into the Australian environment. Politics, to me, seems to have become a bit more negative than in the past,” he said.

“But I think the community is discriminating enough to look for what people are saying on what they’ll achieve, not what they say negatively about someone else.”

Monash University politics lecturer Nick Economou said while there was “great enthusiasm” for blaming the American politics for lowering standards, smear campaigns were just part of the game.

“They’re awful to each other from the very top right down to the bottom,” Dr Economou said.

“In a system devoid of party-politics, it’s just about the individual and this is the inevitable consequence.”

Candidates in council elections are not obliged to say if they belong to political parties and the major parties do not publicly back campaigns, although the Greens do.

The distribution of false or misleading material was a leading source of grievance in the 223 complaints made to the VEC after the 2008 council elections.

VEC spokeswoman Sue Lang said yesterday the commission either investigated complaints or referred them to Local Government Victoria’s investigations and compliance inspectorate. The VEC would compile the complaints in a report, which would be made public after the October 26-27 polls.

The VEC took pre-emptive action this year in response to long-standing claims ballot forms were stolen out of letterboxes, by sending security guards to oversee the distribution of forms in high-rise apartments in Kensington, North Melbourne and Flemington, all within the City of Melbourne. It has also encouraged people who witnessed ballot-form theft to contact the commission or police.

Mr Spence was hopeful negative campaigning would not deter young people and women – two groups under-represented on councils – running for election. An MAV census of elected councillors in 2009 found just 6 per cent were aged 35 or under, while 33 per cent were women. The snapshot of the average Victorian councillor in 2009 was a married man in his mid-40s, who was self-employed in a management position.

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