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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Watchdogs found to be less than wanting: Council by-passes its legal obligations

The Beagle Editor, I have just read the excellent and accurate description of the serious situation that the community confronts in this State - particularly within the local government sector as described by John Richardson, Secretary/Treasurer, Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association. This is a situation that, until a few years ago, I had not expected our community would ever experience in a 21st century liberal democracy. It is not possible to overstate the seriousness of what this means for trust in our governments and the future of our democracy. At present, the NSW ICAC is not resourced to address anything more than a small fraction of the number of the complaints that it receives. As well, the NSW Ombudsman's Office has formally declared that the Office of Local Government (OLG) is "suitable" for the handling of any complaints that are sent to the Ombudsman about local council matters. Based on my dealings with OLG over the last few years, I can confidently state that, in my not inconsiderable experience in such matters over some decades, I have never encountered any agency less suitable to be given a role in the impartial and independent handling of complaints and grievances about council officials. In addition to this, it has recently been discovered that, despite the Eurobodalla council's clear legal obligation to have a panel of 'independent' reviewers in place to deal with complaints about council officials, it has consciously not done so for some years. Instead, the council has been referring all such complaints to just one particular reviewer. This has been happening despite the obvious issues of actual or perceived bias and conflict of interest that it raises around the relationship between our council and that reviewer. There needs to be a full independent inquiry into the current state of government watchdog arrangements in NSW (particularly as they relate to the local government sector) as well as a similar inquiry into the Eurobodalla Shire Council's management of its own grievance handling processes. Jim Bright

"Frankly my dear I don't give a damn" said the defiant and indifferent Teflon coated bug when the magnifying glass came out.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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