|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
On 10 September 2002, following allegations of financial mismanagement, Mr Merv Whelan, an Inspector of Municipal Administration was appointed, under section 223B of the Local Government Act 1989 (the Act), to undertake an investigation into the Surf Coast Shire Council.
Mr Whelan submitted his report on 28 October 2002 and the main issues raised in the report were:
- the Surf Coast Shire Council was not in a sound financial position in terms of liquidity and debt liability;
- poor financial planning and management had persisted, with decisions being made on a year to year basis without proper planning as required by the Local Government Act 1989;
- in order to move towards a sound financial position, the Council would have to change its financial management strategies, review its operational activities and prepare and implement a long-term financial plan; and
- given the serious nature of the findings of the report and the significant growth being experienced in the municipality, there was a need for a more detailed inquiry into the financial situation of the Council and whether the Council would be able to provide its community with the levels of service and infrastructure required.
On 31 October 2002, the Minister for Local Government, the Hon Bob Cameron MP appointed Terry Maher as a Commissioner in accordance with Section 209 of the Act, to conduct an inquiry into matters relating to the affairs of the Surf Coast Shire Council.
The Terms of Reference established by the Minister required the Commissioner to examine and report in writing, any recommendations, on:
- The Surf Coast Shire Council's financial situation and in particular, the implications of the decisions by successive Councils and whether the Council would be able to provide its community with the levels of service and infrastructure required in the future;
- Any other matters relevant to the viability and sustainability of the Surf Coast Shire Council; and
- Any other issues which arose as a result of this Inquiry or out of the report of the Inspector of Municipal Administration, Mr Merv Whelan.
A total of 55 people appeared before the Commission during the course of its 13 sitting days. This included 32 people, including representatives from various community groups, who appeared before the Commission in closed session.
A final report was presented to the Minister for Local Government on 30 April 2003.