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A vestige of alternate truths doesn't auger well


Coming across The Beagle desk every day are emails that raise very strong questions about this Council and their financial administration. Of particular interest are the many emails that provide evidence of "alternate truths". Figures and more figures, statements and strange discrepancies. While we come to expect openness and truthfulness of those we vote to represent us and those in Council who act on our behalf, in recent times there have been questions raised as to whether they have been as open and truthful as we might expect of them. A glaring example is of a councillor who signed formal electoral documents saying that he paid NO membership fees to any political party in his annual returns from 2012 until 2016 though we now have confirmation that he was in fact a member of a local political party and may well have failed to truthfully declare. The same councilor, it is claimed by evidence, also failed to declare he was a member of a political party on his candidate declaration in the recent 2016 elections. To many watching on this could be considered intended deception rather than carelessness as it occurred over several years. Such omissions of the truth then make anyone listening to this councillor wonder if he presents other "alternate facts" and to wonder where the truth and mistruths begin and end. The sad thing here is that, by association, other occurrences of "convenient truths" also rise to the surface with our Council such as the recent public re-exposure of possible "alternate facts" being given out during public meetings regarding the general ledger of Council and their justification for a Special Rate Variation. Many now believe that the figures, selected or otherwise and presented by senior Council staff may have possibly contributed to IPART's granting of a special rate rise and then, inevitably, via another IPART submission, the Eurobodalla Council being found Fit for The Future. With so much being determined behind closed doors the Eurobodalla community has been kept in the dark on a range of key financial issues such the purchase of the Batemans Bay Bowling Club and the recent questions around Council's legal opinion budget in the context of HuntFest. Of considerable concern also are the recent investigations into Gosford Council that found that the figures discovered by independent auditors were "not quite right ". There is an association between the two Councils and questions now rise in regards to the effectiveness and thoroughness of the auditing process, specifically focused around investments, asset valuations and depreciation. To have our own councillors and senior staff swear black and blue that there is "nothing to see and that everything is in order" and to have an internal Audit Committee back this should give us the assurity that all is as it should be. However to then learn of the Audit Committee's scope, their constraints and their capacities to determine bottom line compliance makes one more doubtful than ever that our councillors might well be on a "Smoke and Mirrors" pathway. To many it appears that they have been/are being advised and accept, on face value, that everything is in order whilst failing to have either the interest or the acumen to carry out their own internal audit or initate an independent audit. We now have Councillor Constable and Mayne on the Eurobodalla Council Audit Committee. Both Mayne and Constable stood on platforms of openness and transparency and swore they would call for an audit should they be elected. The time gentlemen, may well have come to initiate that audit. Councillor Brown might well want to move ahead from history however there are major questions surrounding the financial processes of the past term of Council that now shroud this shire in a veil of distrust and the culture that set this in place appears to remain.


#Opinion

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