Moira Shire Council chief executive says he is bound by statutory obligations in not acting on a council resolution for an independent probity audit.ROB HENSON June 25, 2014 3:45am
Protest: Paula Walin-Bates, Adrian Pawar and Leanne Pell are among more than 1000 people supporting a petition demanding an independent probity audit of Moira Shire Council.
Angry residents have pledged to keep fighting for an independent probity audit into Moira Shire Council after a hotly debated budget meeting.
In about four days, 1095 people signed a petition which calls for an all-encompassing investigation into the integrity of council finances and processes.
The petition was brought to Monday night’s Moira Shire Council meeting in Numurkah, which was called to adopt the proposed 2014-15 budget.
Scores of concerned ratepayers and residents attended.
Moira chief executive Mark Henderson told the meeting the resolution passed at February’s council meeting, to complete an independent probity audit, was in conflict with his current statutory obligations relating to an investigation by ‘‘an independent third party’’ into council.
After months of bullying and mismanagement claims, the Local Government Inspectorate is currently investigating how a confidential internal audit report on Moira’s procurement and contracting was leaked to the media.
The leaked report detailed how a potential 42 breaches of finance regulations had aggregated from July 2011 to December 2013.
‘‘When a chief executive is faced with a resolution that is in conflict with a chief executive’s statutory obligation, the obligations under an Act of Parliament take precedence,’’ Mr Henderson said.
‘‘I had an obligation to properly inform the independent organisation, and while those investigations are in train I’m unable to enact the council resolution.
‘‘I don’t need a second team .
‘‘We do have a very confident current financial team in place. And we have a confident internal audit committee and a well structured audit program, and the auditor general preparing for our annual audit.’’
Leading critic of the budget Adrian Pawar claimed the chief executive’s statement to be under statutory obligations was wrong.
‘‘Where he says he’s got statutory obligations — nowhere in the (Local Government) Act does it say that,’’ Mr Pawar said.
He said the group would collect signatures until Monday, then physically hand the petition to the chief executive in Cobram.
‘‘Then he has to do the (independent probity) audit, because the community demands it.’’
Mr Pawar was Moira’s former chief financial officer and turned whistleblower last year, alleging bullying and financial mismanagement.
In public question time at Monday’s meeting, Nathalia’s Leanne Pell asked council: ‘‘Do you take seriously that residents and ratepayers are not happy — 1095 signatures in three to four days proves that, I think.’’
Mayor Peter Mansfield said he believed councillors and staff were ‘‘very concerned with the way we’re travelling’’.
‘‘And we will be taking the decisions for this council and community very seriously indeed, and we don’t take it lightly, especially when it means raising rates, which we think will bring the best outcome for the community,’’ Cr Mansfield said.
When teenage sensation Jack Hammond arrived in Tongala with his dairy farming family in January, his name sparked interest in several coaches across the district.
The Yarrawonga Pigeons have secured a vital win over Wangaratta Magpies at JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga.
On Wednesday, April 22, 11 walkers from Shepparton Adventure Club travelled to Strathmerton then on to Ulupna Island.
Uniformed police are being plucked from the district’s 16-hour stations to work with one-member stations so officers are not patrolling on their own.
A Rochester woman who stole more than $250 worth of money, cigarettes and food from her workplace of four years has been convicted and fined $500, plus court costs.
The final 25 players have been chosen to represent the Goulburn Valley Football League in their quest to regain the number one football ranking in country Victoria.
A 640 000 bird proposal finally gets the green light from Strathbogie Shire Council.
Record cattle prices were recorded at the Finley Saleyards on Friday
People in rural and remote areas are significantly over-represented in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
Barooga will host an information forum on the National Disability Insurance Scheme on Tuesday night.
The Deniliquin Rodeo Arena was in full swing for the recent Deniliquin Classic Barrel Race.
GrainCorp has announced an investment of $50 million to increase oilseed crushing capacity and efficiency at its Numurkah facility in Victoria.
Mark Soyer represented Australia at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Canada.
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