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City of Perth report finds systemic failings in dysfunctional council which led to suspension – ABC News

An explosive report into the embattled City of Perth has found “greed, incompetence and mismanagement” was able to flourish during a period of turmoil which led to the entire council being suspended.

The two-year inquiry into the council, tabled in Parliament today, would have recommended the council be removed had it not already been disbanded, Local Government Minister David Templeman said.

Commissioned in April 2018, the lengthy inquiry was launched to help restore confidence in the city’s ability to function after the entire council was suspended following a period of turmoil.

As WA’s capital city council, it should have been “the benchmark for local government governance and leadership standards. It should be an exemplar organisation,” the report found.

But instead it was “wracked by widespread cultural and systemic failings in both the Council and the administration.

“It was plagued by poor governance practices and was, as a consequence, poorly governed and dysfunctional.

“This failure was the direct result of poor governance and poor decision-making at many levels, a lack of integrity and teamwork in the city’s leadership, and widespread cultural and systemic failings in both the council and the administration of the city.”

Councillors acted in own interests

Factors which contributed to the dysfunction included a factionalised council with former lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi leading a majority “team”.

Other findings included that certain councillors:

  • Used their own positions to advance their personal interests
  • Misused their official entitlements and failed to properly declare conflicts of interest
  • Manipulated election processes
A head and shoulders shot of Tony Power wearing a suit and tie.A head and shoulders shot of Tony Power wearing a suit and tie.
City of Perth inquiry commissioner Tony Power found a litany of governance problems at the council.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Inquirer Tony Power said many of the problems faced by the City, its council and administration “stemmed from an inappropriate and unhealthy culture”.

“These traits have provided fertile ground for greed, incompetence and mismanagement to flourish.”

Sham leases and excessive use of dining room

The report found the failings had stemmed largely from two main causes.

“They were poor behaviour and poor decision-making,” the report said.

“The poor culture at the city and poor governance practices provided fertile ground for these two root causes.”

City of Perth Council HouseCity of Perth Council House

The report’s findings included:

The report recommended a number of changes around conduct including the creation of a “single, mandatory and comprehensive Code of Conduct for all council members and employees of local governments.

It also recommended continuing professional development for council members and executives.

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