This morning in Parliament, I asked the following question to the Minister for Local Government, Nic Street;
Minister, Tasmanians deserve elected members who uphold high standards of governance and ethics, demonstrate competency, are law abiding and will act in the community’s best interest rather than their own self-interest.
Yet with local government elections just around the corner we are already seeing candidates coming forward who don’t meet these standards by any stretch of the imagination.
Only last weekend, the disgraced former Glenorchy Mayor and Alderman Stuart Slade announced his intention to stand once again for Deputy Mayor. I understand that similarly disgraced ex-Glenorchy alderman are also considering standing again.
Disgraced former Alderman Stuart Slade was found to be up to his eyeballs in maladministration. His plain incompetence and misguided self-interest plagued the Council for decades. His conduct was the subject of damning findings from both the Board of Inquiry and the Integrity Commission. It took an Act of Parliament to dismiss him to mitigate the damage he caused and to protect the Glenorchy community.
Despite these findings and the fact that his actions directly cost the Glenorchy ratepayers millions of dollars, he is still able to nominate.
Likewise, Waratah Wynyard Councillor Darren Fairbrother has been found guilty of a sexual offence, placed on the sex offenders register, and suspended from that Council for three months for breaches of the code of conduct – yet he too can re-nominate.
Minister, do you agree that where a current or former local government councillor has been found by a court of law, the Integrity Commission or another judicial inquiry, to act in an unethical or improper manner, or has been found guilty of an offence that brings the council into disrepute that they should be banned from nominating in the future?
And what will you do, to protect Tasmanians and councils from these disgraced candidates?
Encouragingly, Minister Street did recognise the issues involved and acknowledged there needs to be further reform in regards to the eligibility and suitability for local government candidates.
There is no reason why consultation can’t begin now, and I will be strongly recommending that any reform not only apply to local government elections but to State as well.