The Herald Sun, following the updated publication of Melbourne Travel Register and Councillor expenses.
Missing from the published expenses is the costs associated with the Lord Mayors and Deputy Lord Mayors Council funded Limousines and the costs associated with internal catering.
The City Council administration continues to avoid full disclosure of Council’s costs. City of Melbourne’s Linda Weatherspoon has still not responded to our request for information and details of costs.
The published statements are false and not a true or accurate statement of costs. The Travel register is maintained on an electronic white Bord, contains not proper record identification which leaves it wide open to misuse and abuse with records able to be be removed , deleted or amended without any proper audit trail or accountability. (The Council has still failed to account for 10,000’s of dollars of expenses that mysteriously have never been included on the published statements.)
This comes as no surprise as the Council is never held to account by the elected representatives. WHY? because they also have their hands in the cookie jar and are implicated and as such have adopted a policy of avoidance.
The Council’s continued refusal to provide open and transparent governance leaves the City Council wide open to continued corruption. (See previous posts on Ombudsman inquiry into Traffic fines)
The City Council maintains detailed records of internal catering costs but refuse to publish them. Likewise details of costs of the Council’s vehicle fleet are maintained but the City Council refuses to include these costs in the Councillors expense statements. This under values the true costs of the City administration and brings the Councils financial and quality of it’s audit into question. Most of the problems are solely due to the policy of the City Councils Governance department headed by Linda Weatherspoon and sanctioned by the CEO and the elected Council.
Linda Weatherspoon continues to misuse and abuse of the FOI process is concern. The policy and administration of the City Council governance department should be subject of further review by the State Ombudsman in the coming months ( Stay tuned).
$400,000 council globetrot
Jen Kelly, city editor
LORD Mayor John So and the city council splurged more than $400,000 on 34 overseas and 70 interstate junkets in the past year, new documents reveal.
The costliest was a $23,225 three-week trip for an executive to attend sister-city celebrations in Boston and a biotech conference in Philadelphia.
Ratepayers also footed an $8374 bill to fly in three Play School presenters for the Moomba parade and three entertainers for the Queen’s Baton Relay in March.
Reports on the council’s website at the weekend show the 12-month bill up to March is almost $408,000, with further costs to be finalised.
Spin-doctor Hayden Cock, who is believed to earn more than $200,000, enjoyed his first ratepayer-funded trip less than four months into his job.
Mr Cock was appointed to improve council’s image with ratepayers after a series of scandals, several centred on Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer.
Mr Cock’s two-day trip to Sydney to attend a “managing reputation risk” conference in March cost ratepayers almost $3500 for air fares and the conference fee alone.
The corporate affairs director’s accommodation bill is yet to emerge.
The nine councillors including Cr So spent $87,465 on travel. City of Melbourne staff, mostly executives, spent the rest.
The bill includes:
$1060 for an arts project officer to go to a NSW conference on “future directions for the pipe organ in Australia”.
$2250 to send design and culture director Rob Adams to Hong Kong for two days to verify production of a material for council building CH2.
$3300 for a council landscape architect to fly to sister city Tianjin in China for a week to ensure project managers had correctly interpreted plans for the Melbourne Children’s Garden. Council is spending $180,000 on the garden.
$15,070 for marketing manager Scott Chapman to attend the World Swimming Championships in Montreal.
$16,163 for Mr Chapman to take a 19-day trip to London and Ireland.
Of the nine councillors, Cr Singer was the most expensive and extensive globetrotter.
His trips to Milan, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Perth and Canberra cost ratepayers $36,563.
The second biggest spender among the councillors was Cr So, whose $23,771 in travel included San Francisco, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Beijing, his birthplace Hong Kong, and Adelaide.
City of Melbourne chief executive officer David Pitchford defended the spending, saying travel was undertaken when necessary in order for council officers to fulfil their duties and when it was for the benefit for the city.