Last Monday we published a media release by Labor for Coffs Mayoral candidate Tony Judge decrying the state of genuine transparency at the Coffs Harbour City Council.
We, and several other candidates, agreed and we then drew readers attention to an item in last Thursday’s council agenda by way of example. We believe this needs more publicity.
By The Editor and Rob Steurmann
If you want a very recent example of this increasing culture of unaccountable secrecy we give you the very first item on the agenda from last Thursday’s Council Meeting – GM 21/21 Audit and Risk Committee Annual Report.
Executive asks Councillors to ‘note’ it. Whatever that means legally we’re not sure.
But it states who this Committee is and when they met;
Then the report goes on to highlight six areas that need “some improvement: to more generally “improvement” overall (see below).
Great. Excellent. In fact CCO has been highlighting some of these for some time now.
So what specifically in each of these needs work and can be done better and why is that the case you might ask?
Because we asked ourselves that.
So click on the attachment link in the Council agenda for last Thursday and……. it’s the already published report from the agenda. Nothing extra or new and also nothing more!
The unsigned report itself is a textbook example of rote performance devoid of any critical analysis in our opinion.
It requires Council to note the report. At the same time, it tells readers there are no social impacts, no economic impacts and no options. And no reasoning is given as to why these six important categories need some improvement, if not more.
One category is Fraud and Corruption. Another relates to Coastal Works. Another is Water and Sewerage long term planning.
Some 43 incidents are listed under headings. Each group gives a grading such as some improvement.
But there are no remedial options. And no reasoning!
There at least five potential remedial options that come to mind for us:
- Do nothing,
- Do nothing because the number/$ value falls within an unspecified predetermined metric,
- Strengthen the internal controls,
- Provide more training, and
- Do more sample checks to check cost centre codes on the source document.
The report fails to identify the degree of severity or level of deception. Do we need to reduce fraud and corruption? If so why and how? We presume Council doesn’t want more. Heaven forbid! But it’s not spelt out clearly and precisely.
Then, it seems as if by magic, Council will ‘note’ the report and the issues will vanish.
Is this good enough?
What is the potential to recover monies from fraud of corruption?
Is this a full listing or will more incidents arise?
Do residents want the rate of fraud and corruption to improve (it is after all ambiguous)?
Why is none of this available publicly via the agenda attachment?
Please do not think too hard Council – it is only resident’s money after all!
Are your ‘alarm bells’ ringing? Ours are!
Last Thursday’s Council agenda can be found here; https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/About-Council/Council-meetings/Council-meeting-minutes-and-agendas