Big Fish Seeking a Bigger Pond


Maverick Councillor Steven Mayne in his first motion before the Council calling on the City of Melbourne subscribe to the Municipal Association of Victoria and that he be appointed the Council’s representative to the association.  A move that will costs Ratepayers in excess of $33,169. (Money that was not included in the 2012-2013 City Budget and the recommendation even bypassed Council’s Finance Committee

Councillor Mayne has been given chair of governance and finance and even more disturbing Greens Councillor Rohan Leppert Deputy Chair.  

Carlton ALP member, Cr Richard Foster was denied an economic portfolio and has been sidelined by being allocated Transport and People City. 

In another hidden appointment Greens Councillor Cathy Oake was reappointed as the Council’s nominee to International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI) and it’s Oceania Regional Executive Committee .  What is of greater concern is that the City of Melbourne is picking up Councillor Oake’s expenses.  The costs include numerous international trips and junkets to attend ICLEI’s executive meetings – each flight generating enough green house gases generated by a family in year. Why they can not just telecommute is any ones guess, ICELI is more about junkets and marketing than the environment. The Enviro Fest Travel set.

There are ongoing concerns and questions asked as to why the Council is picking up the tab for a third party organisations executive costs and why these costs are not being paid for by the association itself.    Similar concerns were raised with expenses related to former Green Crs David Risstrom and Fraser Brindley. No doubts this is part of the Council’s inducement and payouts of Councillor appointments.  You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

A tell-tale sign of the Greens true committement towards the environment is the failure of the Greens to take on Waste Management in the City.  Newly elected Greens Counicllor Rohan Leppert prefering instead to chair the socialite portfolio of Arts and Culture. Waste Management and the Environment come a distant second on the Greens portfolio list unless there is a junket or two.

The Council’s all-up “Future Melbourne” committee structure is designed to distract councillors from the real game and to lock out community representation. Smoke and Mirrors.  Most decisions are  held behind closed doors and made under “delegation”. 

There is no clear structure or reporting on what decisions have been  made in the name of the council.  There is no published public register of delegations or even the need to report on decisions made under delegations, all of which should be readily available on the council’s web site.

The newly elected Council failed to review the delegation lists. If the public don’t know what delegations are in place what confidence can we have that the elected Council knows what decisions have been delegated.  The signing of a blank check with little to no accountability.

Council has made a small micro step towards Council becoming more open to the public.  Meetings will now commence at 5:30PM not 5:00PM as was previously the case.  This still locks out most community input. 

The holding of council meetings on Tuesdays means they miss the local media deadlines and there still is no single local media outlet that covers the entire City.  South of the Yarra is ignored and forgotten as are most of the local precincts.

The City Council made no effort towards  establishing net-casting of Council meetings, something that in today’s technological world should be already in place by now. When it comes to information about governance the Council’s web site has little to offer is is under utilised. Teh guiding principle is do as little as possible and nmo more then is required under legilsation

The published Councillor expense statements do not show the full picture with many costs, payments and benefits afforded Councillors hidden from public view. 

Our City council will go to any extent to avoid disclosure and accountability. Nothing has changed and the newly elected council looks set to maintain the established tradition. Maybe Stephen Mayne will address this issue but I would not be holding my breath.  I doubt open and transparency is on his agenda.