City should be bigger – Kennett and Proust opposed by Doyle

Calls for a Greater City of Melbourne supported by Melbourne former CEO Elizabeth Proust and Jeff Kennett yet rejected by Robert Doyle

In an article published in the Age newspaper, that skims across the issue, both Elizabeth Proust and Jeff Kennett called for Melbourne to expand

Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, desperate to hang on to his power base threatened violence by stating he would violently oppose the move.

Jeff Kennett former,Victorian Premier 1992 to 1999 who Robert Doyle as the State member for Malvern served under, would not be drawn into outlining boundaries said the City of Melbourne should be bigger.

Jeff Kennett was responsible for the reduction in the size of the City of Melbourne back in 1993 when the City lost a sizable part of its former boundaries to the North.  Mergers of other inner city coucnils took place leaving Melbourne a small shell of what it should be.

Prior to winning office Jeff Kennett opportunistically opposed moves by Labor’s Cain Government to merge Local Councils, only to embark on such a reform soon after taking office

There have been many pushes and recommendations for a Greater Melbourne which would put the City on par with cities such as London and Brisbane.

Melbourne should as a minimum take in the City of Port Philip and the former City of Prahran to the South of the Yarra with the possibility of including the City of Yarra to the North East.

Robert Doyle lives in the neigbouring City of Port Phillip and served as the Member of Malvern before losing the leadership of the State Parliamentary Liberal Party to Denis Napthine. He later resigned from State Parliament and stood for the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Office in 2008 and again in 2012.  He has served since in a lack luster sugar coated local government position milking his status as Lord Mayor of the Borough of Melbourne socializing with the likes of Boris Johnston Mayor of the Greater City of London. Doyle, who campaigned on a short lived “No Junkets” policy is desperate to cling on to the perks of office, International travel and the Lord Mayors Limousine .

Call to slash Melbourne’s ‘inefficient’ councils

 Source The Age

Melbourne must slash its local councils from 31 to just one if it is to plan services and large-scale infrastructure effectively, a former CEO of the City of Melbourne and aide to premier Jeff Kennett says.

And Australia should cut its levels of government to just two – national and regional – rather than the current three tiers.

”Our federation and the sheer number and layers of organisations that involve themselves in decision making … slows us down,” said Elizabeth Proust delivering the Planning Institute’s annual Kemsley Oration, the industry’s key annual address, late last year.

Mr Kennett on Thursday did not support Ms Proust’s call for one Melbourne council, but backed a dramatic expansion of Melbourne City Council’s boundaries.

”I think it would be a natural reform for the future,” Mr Kennett said, although he said he ”would not stipulate … how many neighbouring councils [Melbourne] should absorb”. He said council amalgamations by his government in 1994 were ”the right thing to do”, and it would be worth reviewing the numbers of councils.

But Ms Proust said the amalgamations ”did not go far enough” as too many councils were ”too small to be effective or efficient”.

Ms Proust was chief executive of the City of Melbourne from 1990 to 1995, and then secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

During the tumultuous Kennett era, councils in Victoria were slashed from 210 to 79. ”That number is still too large,” she said. ”As is the number of 31 councils which cover Melbourne” because Melbourne’s size and scale demand city-wide vision and governance.

Melbourne will grow from 4.25 million people to 6.5 million by 2050, according to the Napthine government strategy.

Jude Munro, a former CEO of the Brisbane City Council, backed Ms Proust’s call. Brisbane is the country’s largest council, covering more than 1.1 million residents and running the city’s buses, ferries and its water infrastructure.

Ms Munro headed Moreland Council and the old St Kilda Council in Melbourne in the 1990s. She said creating a greater Melbourne council made sense, but said the mayor would become ”a real competitor to the Premier of Victoria”.

Lord mayor Robert Doyle said he would be ”violently opposed” to one greater Melbourne council, with the city’s CBD model working well. ”It works for Brisbane, but I don’t think it would work for a Sydney or Melbourne,” he said. ”You lose a bit if you try and be all things to all people.’

The Planning Institute’s Victorian president, Brett Davis, also cautioned that a merger of more councils was simplistic and might not address the city’s real governance challenges.

Questionable conduct: Report on Lord Mayor’s Harassment Claim – tabled but not distributed

The City of Melbourne tabled a report on the Coucnillor Conduct Panel’s determination of Cr Jackie Watts harasment claim made againt Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Link: 6.7b Councillor Conduct Panel – tabling of determination and reasons for determination

The report was tabled by a motion moved Councillor Stephen Mayne and seconded by Deputy Lord Mayor, Susan Riley.

Cone of Silence amongst brothers and sisters

The Melbourne City Council refused to make copies of the report available to the media and members of the public in the public gallery.

Stephen Mayne refused to outline the finding of the report and the recommendations made which is required under law to be tabled at the Council meeting.

The extent of silence amongst Councillors was deafening as the motion was passed without debate or discussion.

Council’s Embarrassing Moment as it slugs ratepayers and City commuters

The Melbourne City Council has published its four year plan and 2013-1014 budget.  In an embarrassing oversight the Council nearly passed a recommendation approving the wrong City plan.

The recommendation outlined in the notice paper listed

Recommendation from management
8. That Council:
8.1.approves the draft Council Plan 2009–13
for release for public notice (Notice)
from 10 May to 7June 2013
Should have been the 2013-2017 draft Council plan
Thankfully a member of the public altered the Council to the administrative oversight and the Council was able to amend the recommendation before it was too late.  Had they not  done so they would have had to convene another meeting to pass the correct motion, costing ratepayers 10s of thousands of dollars.

As much as I would have been amused I could not sit by watch such a blatant oversight go unnoticed.  That’s our Council administration for you.

ABC Error in Reporting on Council’s Press Release on Wall Collapse

The ABC, following a complaint in relation to an article on the Wall collapse in Swanston Street, reported that the City of Melbourne was not required to issue a permit for the hoarding.  The ABC reporter was wrong.

ABC’s response to the complaint

ABC News acknowledges the reporter misinterpreted the press release issued by the City of Melbourne and consequently inadvertently misrepresented the council’s position.

News advise that the release came after several days of phone calls by the reporter to the City of Melbourne asking about whether or not a council permit was required and, if so, whether one was issued. She was told by council officers that the situation regarding permits was confused as there were a number of different authorities involved. The confusion was compounded by the press release, which was not received until late in the day. On reading the release she came to the conclusion that it was indicating that the council did not need to issue a permit.

ABC News apologises for the error. The story has been corrected and an editor’s note attached.
The City of Melbourne Press release did not state that the Council “did not need to issue a permit” to the contrary it stated that 

We can confirm that the City of Melbourne has not issued a permit for the structure attached to the wall.  

There are four relevant legislative frameworks – Planning, Building, Occupational Health and Safety and Local Laws. There are intricacies in the way in which these interconnect and overlap.  These complexities are likely to be considered by the investigating authorities.

A CMP (Construction Management Plan) does not replace the need for Planning, Building or Local Laws approval for specific works. These must be sought separately.

The City of Melbourne’s responsibility of the subject of a number of inquiries including the Coroner, Work Safety and the Building Commission.  The Council has refused to undertake an independent inquiry into its responsibility on the administration of public safety, it’s Local laws and liability

March for Public Safety: Melbourne Community in Solidarity with Workers

Some 8,000 to 10,000 Trade Unionists and members of the public marched in solidarity for public and workplace safety.

The Union rally follows on from four deaths associated with GroCon buildings sites in Melbourne. One Worker who fell from a construction site crane and three innocent pedestrians who were killed when a hoarding and brick wall collapsed on March 28.

Whilst the main focus was on GroCon and the State Government Work Safety questions are being asked as to the City of Melbourne’s responsibility and why it failed to issued a permit or inspect the Swanston Street building site?

The City of Melbourne needs to undertake an internal review of its role in the tragic events and its statutory obligations.

  • Is GroCon being given favourable consideration and are they exempt from local laws and prosecution?
  • Has the City of Melbourne been negligent or are they turning a blind eye in a gentleman’s agreement? 

The media are also asking questions but the Council has gone underground refusing to answer, hoping to weather the storm and escape attention from three government inquiries.  Worksafe, the Buildling Industry and  a Coronal inquiry.

There is a need for a fourth Statutory compliance and review which must look closely at the role of the City of Melbourne in overseeing Construction site public safety.

The City of Melbourne has a whole department of Engineers and exactly what do they do other then Engineer congestion, attend seminars and drink coffee? If they are not providing oversight, inspection and enforcing the rules why are they employed? Why are rate payers paying their wages?

The Union movement plans further rallies should the government inquires seek to scape goat or fail to hold to account those responsible.  This includes the City of Melbourne and the State Government

Doyle Cherry Picks Port Phillip

Melbourne City Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, has called for a take over of Fisherman’s Bend precinct on the banks of the Yarra with the land being encompassed within the City of Melbourne’s Boundaries.

Doyle’s Cherry Picking proposal should be rejected.,

What is needed is a more comprehensive review of the inner City boundaries. There needs to be a discussion of a  full merger of the City of Port Phillip, the City of Yarra, and the former city of Prahran and the City of Melbourne.  All have a common community of interest.

The Kennett State Government’s previous reforms of Local Government was poorly considered and should have included an expanded City of Melbourne taking in the four inner City State seats of Albert Park, Richmond, Prahran and Melbourne would be a better option than the proposal put forward by Robert Doyle

A newly constituted Melbourne City Council should consists of 21 members  (3 wards by 7 Councillors or 7 wards by 3 Councillors)

The Art of Delegation and Register Reporting

The City of Melbourne is required under the Local Government Act to review its list of delegations within 12 months following the Municipal election. 

There is ongoing concern at the misuse and abuse of decisions made under delegation.  Whilst there is a requirement for a register of delegations there is no mandatory requirement to maintain or publish  a register of decisions made under the instrument of delegations.  This leaves the whole system of governance wide open to misuse and abuse. No one knows who and when a decision is made and under what authority the decision had.

Individual Councillors under the terms of the Local Government Act and the Councillors “Code of Conduct” can not direct Council Staff in the performance of their duty or in exercising any decisions made under delegation. It is unclear if that applies to decisions made by the Council as a whole. (Section 76E (3) of  LG Act) By inference a Council can direct the CEO to take certain action within some limits.  

The power of delegation is limited  to expressed delegations made to the Chief Executive Officer, a member of staff and or special committee or advisory board. A person or bodies who have been delegated authority can not further delegate to someone else or another body powers or duties delegated to them. If this is required this would have to be done by way of amending the substantive authority of delegation.

It sounds a bit convoluted but it is designed to ensure that there is a clear line of responsibility and authority.  Untangling the web of delegations is an art form unto itself.

Understanding the process is made that much more difficult when decisions are made under delegation and there is no central database or record of those decisions.

We have raised the issue of delegation  and the need for a register of decisions made under delegation with the Lord Mayor and Councillor Stephen Mayne, who is chairman of the Council’s Governance Portfolio. We hope this issue will be looked into and addressed when the new Council finally gets around to reviewing the register of delegations.

From our past experience this will be one of those last minute decisions that the Council administration will present to the Council at the last minute giving them  little time to seriously pick though the list of delegations and understand exactly what powers they are delegating.

A register of decisions made under delegations, if properly designed and implemented, would give Councillors a better understanding and oversight of the delegated process.

Do not hold your breath.  Previous Councils have not got around to reviewing the process properly and we do not expect, although we remain hopeful, that this council will  get it right either. 

Maybe Stephen Mayne will be the one. Somehow I think not.

Another issue but semi related to the question of governance there is a requirement that Council must record and register any “Assembly of Councillors”

Section 3 of the Local Government Act -Definitions, states:

assembly of Councillors 

(however titled) means a meeting of an advisory committee of the Council, if at least one Councillor is present, or a planned or scheduled meeting of at least half of the Councillors and one member of Council staff which considers matters that are intended or likely to be- 

(a) the subject of a decision of the Council; or 
(b) subject to the exercise of a function, duty or power of the Council that has been delegated to a person or committee- but does not include a meeting of the Council, a special committee of the Council, an audit committee established under section 139, a club, association, peak body, political party or other organisation;

It should be noted that there have been a number of assemblies of Councillors that have taken place this term that have not been listed on the City Council’s published register But we are  noting them and recording the details along with keeping a close eye on Councillor expenses, interstate and  overseas travel.

Leppert Occupies the Melbourne Den

Greens Melbourne City Councillor, Rohan Leppert, plays cheap divisive politics and in the process brings the City Council into disrepute.

Rohan Leppert was elected to the City of Melbourne last October, his election was due to a flaw in the method of counting the vote which inflated the value of the Greens at the expense of Team Doyle. 8% of Melbourne voters were disenfranchised as a result of the system of proportional representation and the use of the Droop quota. Under the Droop quota the total number of vote is divided by ten and a slice of the cake discarded

Analysis of the  2012 City of Melbourne votes, using a full proportional voting system where the cake is divided into nine slices, indicates that Rohan Leppert would not have been elected, in his place community candidate Kevin Chamberlin should have been elected.  A pure proportional system would not have discarded or disenfranchised Team Doyle’s 8% surplus, each vote would have equal weight.

Rohan Leppert is calling on the City Council to refer the conduct of the Victorian police to the newly created IBAC anti-corruption body.

Rohan Leppert will not secure support for what is widely considered to be pure opportunism and grandstanding.   More importantly it is an abuse of process. If Rohan Leppert sincerely believes that the events surrounding the Occupy Melbourne protest warrants criminal investigation and review by IBAC he could have acted as an individual or with the support of other organization. IBAC ahs much more important issues to consider then frivolous political opportunism.  further there are other avenues for review that should be considered prior to referral to IBAC

Rohan Leppert is a clear indication the style of  politics advocated by the Greens.   There are much more pressing issues such as the need to restore open and transparent governance in the City Council, issues related to traffic management, infrastructure,  planning ,finance and electoral reform that need addressing that Rohan Leppert has not addressed. 

Whilst Rohan Leppert seeks to claim the mantle of civil libertarian the fact is he is naive and undemocratic.  The Greens themselves are renowned for the lack of transparency in there party policy development with Journalists denied access to their state conference forums.  Rophan Leppert himself has also been critic for banning those critical of Green policies from following him on Twitter.  A case of do as he says not what he does.

Rohan Leppert, having been elected to the City Council  must also consider his fiduciary duty to the Council as a whole and the  Councils local laws not sectional political grandstanding.

This issue would also be a test of integrity for other City Councillors including Jackie Watts, Richard Foster and Stephen Mayne.

Melbourne’s Planning Scheme in tatters lacking flexibility, innovation and certainty

Melbourne City Council last night demonstrated the Councils inability to provide good governance and proper planning.

The Council’s pride was wounded as the City of Melbourne faced reality that its planning scheme does not meet the demands of a growing and innovative city or facilitate good design.

There was acceptance that the proposed Australia 108 project was a quality development that would contribute to Melbourne built environment.

The City of Melbourne’s ego has been bruised as it realizes that the Council has become irrelevant to Melbourne’s planning system.  The Council’s main objection is that Nonda Katsalidis’s FK Architects
does not comply with the City’s Planning Scheme provision and its established high limit of 100m. The Council has been sidelined in the planning process.

So impressed with the proposed design Deputy Chair of Planning, Cr Stephen Mayne, called on the State Government to make it a condition of the development that Nonda Katsalidis be retained as the projects Architect.

The City of Melbourne employes a fleet of staff and consultants all who are highly paid. Previously Cr Mayne had complained that the Council was only given 14 days to respond to the proposed development, however the council was able to consider and respond to the Minister within a week of being asked to respond to the Ministers invitation.

The problem is not the project design but with the Melbourne Planning Scheme. 

The City Council planning system and its involvement in major projects has been in free fall ever since the City back-downed and supported the shift of the Melbourne Museum from the centre of the city to the outskirts. Whilst the Council remains an advocate in the planning process, it’s credibility and relevance is non exsistant.  Until they become proactive and embrace good design and innovation all the winging and crying in the beer will not help.

Hidden Meetings: City of Melbourne Caught-out

The City of Melbourne has been exposed for breaching article 80A of the Local Government Act.

In accordance with section 80A of the Local Government Act 1989 (the Act), written records of assemblies of Councillors are to be reported at an ordinary meeting of the Council as soon as practicable.

On February 7 Maverick Councillor Stephen Mayne reported in his “Tweet” that he had in fact chaired an undisclosed unadvertised Finance and Governance Committee meeting

Enjoyed 90 minute session this afternoon chairing first Finance and Governance committee meeting at City of Melb. Lots of meaty debate.
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) February 7, 2013

The Melbourne City Council holding secret meetings behind closed doors comes as no surprise, as they continue to deny public scrutiny of their actions.

A review of the City of Melbourne published report tabled for next weeks Council meeting fails to list or mention the meeting that Cr Mayne claimed he had chaired on February 7.

The failure of the Council administration to properly report all meetings of Councillors has highlighted the full extent and level of contempt the Council administration will go to to avoid disclosure and accountability.  Either Stephen Mayne has lied or misrepresented the Council in reporting his tweet or the City of Melbourne has been negligent or deliberately seeking to avoid reporting meetings of the Council.

Decisions made behind closed doors and unreported decisions by Council Staff under “delegation” leaves the City of Melbourne wide open to the allegation of ongoing corruption with the current City Council complacent to the deceit.