It is interesting to read in the article by Kate Emery in the West Australian that the City of Vincent council is pushing for changes to the Local Government Act and in a motion have asked the W.A. Local Government Association-WALGA-to suggest the State Government change the act “To enhance governance, transparency, accountability and consistency.”
I am all for that as many of the gripes the Fremantle community has with Council are basically all of the above, but it also should apply to State and Federal government where inconsistent governance has become a rule rather than an exception. The community gets very annoyed about piecemeal planning and ad-hoc decision-making.
Transparency buried in spin is also highly annoying, as is hiding behind commercial confidentiality, as the Kings Square project business plan debate has shown.
The City of Vincent also wants changes to the declaration of gifts and restrict gifts to Councillors. At present the maximum gift allowed is $ 300.00 but the City of Perth would like that to be pushed up as far a $ 1,000.00 because otherwise Elected Members would not be allowed to accept free tickets to events that cost more than $ 300.00.
I believe the whole free tickets for Councillors should be scrapped and only two Councillors per event should be delegated as observers and report back to Council. I have seen Facebook posts where Councillors ask who wants to come with them and that is not the way free tickets for Elected Members should be used.
There is no doubt for me that most Councillors work very hard and that it is almost a full time job to be on Council for a remuneration of under $ 30,000 a year, but I would like to see the standards lifted, especially more consistency and much higher transparency. It would keep all the cynicism and negativity away from social media, letters to editors and blogs and that would be a good thing.