Local, Politics

What the report into Port Macquarie’s Glasshouse concluded. Any lessons?

The following are the conclusions from the Public Inquiry held into the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council which specifically looked at the Glasshouse project.

We re-publish them here without any further comment but we would like to hear from you if you think it ‘rings any bells’.

The Port Macquarie Glasshouse

5.3 Conclusions
• Council, represented by both the Councillors and staff, have failed to
demonstrate adequate diligence when dealing with the financial
management of the project, in particular they have:

  • Failed to adequately acquaint themselves with the project
    and particularly its costs.
  • Failed to impose adequate financial controls over the project.
  • Failed to recognise and consider the financial and other implications of the substantive changes to project brief.
  • Failed to ensure rigor in Project Control Group.
  • Excused their failures upon the basis that financial issues were “operational issues” falling outside their role.
  • Council represented by both the Councillors and staff have failed
    to demonstrate prudent project management.
    • When one reviews Council’s Right of Reply as presented by Mr
    Miles it is difficult to see the current Council learning from its past
    mistakes.
    • Council in 2004 and 2005 needed a special rate increase to catchup
    with a broad range of general fund infrastructure and
    maintenance jobs with the Glasshouse being but one of the
    projects.
    • Council revenue is controlled by rate pegging and the Glasshouse
    Project has required an extra $20 million plus as well as a larger
    operating subsidy.
    • Council has never been in control of the Glasshouse cost both
    capital and operation.
    • Essential and discretionary services are being impacted on by the
    uncontrolled escalation of the cost to build the Glasshouse.
    • The operations of the Glasshouse will adversely impact on the
    provision of works and services from the General Fund.
    • Considering the real cost of operating the Glasshouse the centre
    will require a major amount of community subsidy even if it were
    able to attract major shows and conferences 365 days a year.
    • All of the evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that the
    Council failed:
  • *To involve its community in the planning and funding for the
    Centre.
  • To consult the wider community, preferring the views of theProject Reference Group, and industry providers.
  • When one reviews Council’s Right of Reply as presented by MrMiles it is difficult to see the current Council learning from its past mistakes.
  • •Council in 2004 and 2005 needed a special rate increase to catchup with a broad range of general fund infrastructure and maintenance jobs with the Glasshouse being but one of the projects.
  • Council revenue is controlled by rate pegging and the Glasshouse Project has required an extra $20 million plus as well as a larger operating subsidy.
  • Council has never been in control of the Glasshouse cost both capital and operation.
  • Essential and discretionary services are being impacted on by the uncontrolled escalation of the cost to build the Glasshouse.
  • The operations of the Glasshouse will adversely impact on the provision of works and services from the General Fund.
  • Considering the real cost of operating the Glasshouse the centre will require a major amount of community subsidy even if it were able to attract major shows and conferences 365 days a year.


• All of the evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that the
Council failed:

  • To involve its community in the planning and funding for the
    Centre,
  • To consult the wider community, preferring the views of the Project Reference Group, and industry providers.

The Council refused to recognise and consider community
concerns and:

  • Denigrated individuals criticising the project
  • Provided misleading and/or incorrect information
  • Improperly used its support group to campaign against critics, rather than to adopt proper consultation policies.
  • Council’s communication strategies have driven its processes and have both overtaken and subverted genuine community consultation.
  • Ultimately, the Council refused to waiver from its perception of the project.
  • The Councillors failed to fulfil their role as elected persons and, particularly, to facilitate communication between the community and the council.
  • Ultimately, the Council has failed to provide a facility for its community, after undertaking due consultation. In so doing, theCouncil has failed to meet its charter.
  • Councillors have not had enough accurate information to make a considered decision in regards to the approving of the Glasshouse to be built on the Civic Centre site.
  • The majority of Councillors have failed to demand their right to accurate and complete information regarding the development of the Glasshouse on the Civic Centre site.
  • The community has been constantly misled by Council regarding the Glasshouse and its development on the Civic Centre site.
  • The Glasshouse Theatre and Conference centre cannot generate enough income to cover its long term costs of operations under the current decision making processes.
  • The annual financial shortfall when all legitimate costs are considered will consume the bulk of the 2004 and 2005 special rate variations.”

6 Comments

  1. The Glasshouse model of mismanagement was directly transferred to the Coffs Harbour City Council and rolled out in the Jetty Foreshores planning process . The original Jetty Action Group at the time was a direct casualty of the corrupt approach.
    Many projects, from the Emerald Beach development proposals to the proposed city centre building, have been treated to the full barrel or at least to elements of the same approach and its time for a cleanout and a fundamental change.

  2. Let’s hope the state government/NSW Planning grants requests for public hearings into the CCCC BEFORE the DA is approved so they don’t have to hold a public inquiry AFTER the financial damage is done, as was the case with Port Macquarie’s Glasshouse.

  3. It could be said that CHCC are completely impervious to the tragedy of Port’s Glasshouse.

    Lessons learned? It’s now too late for anyone to admit any errors or misjudgments IMO.

    Council’s GM appears to have pushed our elected Councillors into a corner from where they find it hard to escape.

  4. This report may prove to be invaluable in future, given that it will be possible to forego a public inquiry into our homegrown fiasco, simply amend some small sections of the report, and then change any reference to Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour.

    Money saved.

  5. De ja vu.

  6. ” If we don’t lean from past mistakes, we are bound to repeat them!”

    Our repeat performance of this tragedy is about to be duplicated in our CCCC/NEW COUNCIL OFFICES.

    Given the reckless land sales, and the apparent secret deals that now seem to be emerging, we have even greater future woes than those Port Macquarie faced!

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