Protecting integrity: Central Goldfields Shire council investigation
The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (the Inspectorate) has, over time, conducted a number of investigations at Central Goldfields Shire Council. Each case raised concerns with processes and management following the actions of individuals.
In August 2012, following an investigation by the Inspectorate, a now former councillor was found guilty of two conflicts of interest and ordered to pay $24,000 in fines and costs. The relevant issue is that this was a criminal prosecution under the Local Government Act 1989 for which the individual (in this case, the councillor) was liable for costs and any penalties.
It was later revealed that council had paid the councillor’s personal legal fees and costs totalling approximately $69,750. This was noted in the council’s 2012/2013 budget but the payment was transacted by the administration before ‘council’ resolved to pay, raising concerns about the decision making process and the management of public funds. A secondary investigation was conducted by the Inspectorate into this process and resulted in a further prosecution case.
In September 2016, following receipt of various allegations, the Inspectorate commenced a formal investigation into council matters including an alleged conflict of interest relating to the CEO, alleged false claiming of expenses and numerous allegations of poor governance and noncompliance with legislative requirements.
While this report does not relate to all allegations raised, as some remain confidential while being managed within the court system, it will cover many issues that appeared during the period. These include council’s lack of internal controls, inadequate policies and procedures, and an overall lack of respect for compliance.