Council to be monitored

Municipal monitors have been brought into Brimbank council, effective from Monday, February 12. (Damjan Janevski) 256135_01

Gerald Lynch and Tara Murray

Brimbank residents and several councillors have welcomed the state government’s decision to appoint municipal monitors to oversee Brimbank council.

Last week the Local Government Minister Melissa Horne announced Janet Dore and Penelope Holloway had been appointed as monitors until the end of the year saying assigning monitors had proved to be effective at guiding councils to make improvements in governance to help them better serve their communities.

“Governance issues must be addressed, and the monitors will help identify what is needed to ensure Brimbank City Council can best represent its ratepayers,” Ms Horne said.

“The purpose of local government is to serve its community, and the appointment of municipal monitors at Brimbank City Council will help resolve ongoing issues at the council.”

The decision comes after months of tensions among councillors.

As reported by Star Weekly, several councillors failed to attend two council meetings late last year which lead to one meeting not being held. Two councillors, Maria Kerr and Virginia Tachos, highlighted feeling unsafe.

Brimbank mayor Ranka Rasic said the council was committed to working together in the best interests of the community.

“I fully support and welcome the appointment of municipal monitors to improve behaviour and governance for our community’s benefit,” she said.

“It’s crucial for all councillors to know their duties under the Local Government Act, and work together for Brimbank’s good governance and the best outcomes for the community.

“It is absolutely essential the local community has confidence in the governance of Council by all of the elected representatives.”

Councillor Maria Kerr took to social media to throw her support behind the decision to bring in municipal monitors.

“I welcome this decision with open arms,“ she said. “I am a staunch advocate for transparency, good governance and scrutiny.

“I have proven this by putting up a motion for unscripted questions with no notice that was not supported by the majority of my fellow councillors. I believe in freedom of speech, opinion & transparency.

“I look forward to improved leadership, governance & outcomes for the community.”

Councillor Virginia Tachos also supported the move to appoint monitors.

“I am pleased to hear the appointment of municipal monitors to Brimbank City Council to address the current Governance concerns as outlined in their terms of reference and look for and to working with them,“ she said. “Our community expects the highest standards from elected officials and leaders- to help build public trust and ensure positive outcomes are delivered for our communities.“

Several residents in community groups also welcomed the decision.

The terms of reference for the monitors direct them to advise and provide any relevant assistance and support to the council in relation to the improvement of the council’s governance processes and practices.

This includes confidentiality requirements, management of conflicts of interest, relationships between councillors and between councillors and council staff, meeting procedures, decision-making processes, and the adequacy of governance rules.