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Moira Shire audit push fails

Moira Shire Council pledges to improve financial reporting after petition for full independent probity audit is officially received.

ROB HENSON August 20, 2014 3:36am

A petition calling for an independent probity audit into Moira Shire Council has failed, but councillors have pledged to ramp up financial reporting and act in the community’s interest.

After emotive discussion at Monday night’s monthly meeting in Katunga, Mayor Peter Mansfield used a casting vote to ensure a motion was passed, asking ‘‘VAGO (Victorian Auditor-General’s Office) auditors ... present a full report on (council’s) financial position and recommendations for moving forward’’.

In addition, council will ‘‘continue to monitor existing internal and external audit processes and the outcomes of the CEO’s performance plan as the appropriate tools to ensure the ongoing financial viability and operational performance of the shire’’.

Cr Wendy Buck put the motion and said the independent probity audit was relevant in February, when council approved it, but the situation had now changed.

‘‘We need to get expert advice from VAGO-appointed auditors whether we need to take part in a full audit or part audit,’’ she said.

‘‘They are a new firm to be appointed to council, more independent than anyone we’ve ever had. Our CEO is as independent as they come, he’s the new kid on the block.’’

Cr Kevin Bourke unsuccessfully attempted to reinstate the full independent probity audit.

‘‘Prior to a CEO taking charge we hoped to have the final report (independent probity audit), or part of the report,’’ he said.

‘‘I feel the community has spoken. In a few days, 1100 signatures indicates the community are singing out for what we originally stood for.’’

Cr Bourke’s motion was only supported by Cr Marie Martin and failed to get a majority vote.

‘‘If you keep changing things all the time, what trust do the community have in us?’’ Cr Martin said, to applause from the public gallery.

Cr Buck said council had been cautioned through regulatory bodies to postpone any independent probity audit.

She said some of the issues of concern had been elevated to higher regulatory bodies, including the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

‘‘We need to put something together that is relevant to today,’’ Cr Buck said.

Cr Ed Cox said the issue had been around for too long and had ‘‘never got off on the right foot’’.

‘‘I didn’t know anything about it (independent probity audit) until the council meeting that night (in February),’’ he said.

Continued on page 2.

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