In May 2019, a Commission of Inquiry into South Gippsland Shire Council was appointed under section 209 of the Local Government Act 1989.
The Commission was established to conduct an inquiry into the affairs of the Council including the final report of the municipal monitor, the conduct of individual councillors, processes and decisions in the lead up to the conclusion of the current Chief Executive Officer contract, including the appointment of an Acting Chief Executive Officer and the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council's governance arrangements in delivering services to the community.
Three commissioners were appointed:
- The Hon Frank Vincent AO QC, a former Supreme Court judge (Chair of Commissioners);
- Ms Julie Eisenbise, a former mayor and councillor at Manningham City Council between 1997 and 2005 (Commissioner); and
- Mr John Watson, a former senior public servant with more than four decades experience across both local and State government (Commissioner).
In undertaking their inquiry, the Commissioners provided opportunities to any person wishing to contribute. These opportunities included private interviews, written submissions and a public hearing. Written submissions received by Commissioners and deemed appropriate for publication are included below.
Commission of Inquiry Report
The Commission of Inquiry provided its report to the Hon Adem Somyurek MP, Minister for Local Government, on 13 June 2019 and the report was tabled in Parliament on 19 June 2019.
1. To conduct an inquiry into matters relating to the affairs of the South Gippsland Shire Council, including through an examination of:
- The final report from the municipal monitor and any responses from the Council or Councillors to the Minister's letter dated 2 April 2019;
- The conduct of individual councillors during the term of the current Council;
- Processes and decisions in the lead up to the conclusion of the current Chief Executive Officer contract, including the appointment of an Acting Chief Executive Officer;
- Any other decisions made, or actions taken, by the Council after the Minister's letter dated 2 April 2019 to the Council;
- The efficiency and effectiveness of the Council's governance arrangements in delivering services to its constituents; and
- Any other matters identified by the Commission that have an impact on the Council's ability to function.
2. To report to the Minister for Local Government in writing on the matters outlined above by 13 June 2019.
- The Local Government Act 1989 provides the inquiry with broad ranging powers including summoning witnesses, requiring the production of documents and full access to the Council and its documents.
South Gippsland Shire Council Administrators
The South Gippsland Shire Council was dismissed on 21 June 2019 by the Local Government (South Gippsland Shire Council) Act 2019, following the inquiry.
Three administrators have been appointed to act as the South Gippsland Shire Council until the next election for the council in October 2021. The administrators are:
- Ms Julie Eisenbise (Chair)
- Mr Rick Brown
- Mr Christian Zahra AM