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.
Coca-Cola Amatil has confirmed it will be pressing on with its $100 million redevelopment of SPC Ardmona.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
A snake was spotted this afternoon.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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