A petition signed by 1,140 people calling for Moira Shire Council to conduct an independent probity audit was hand delivered to Mayor Peter Mansfield on Monday morning.FIONA BLICK July 8, 2014 3:44pm
A group of approximately 25 concerned residents, who held placards demanding an immediate independent probity audit on the fiscal and operational management processes of Moira Shire Council, marched down the central business district of Cobram to the council offices where Cr Mansfield, Deputy Mayor Wendy Buck and Crs Don McPhee and Brian Keenan met them.
A member of the ‘audit action group’ and former Moira Shire CFO Adrian Pawar spoke with the Yarrawonga Chronicle after the event and said it was a positive meeting.
“Mayor Peter Mansfield spoke with the group outside the council offices and he accepted the petition on behalf of Moira Shire Council,” Mr Pawar said.
“Cr Mansfield gave us his assurances he would table this petition at the next council meeting.”
It has now been four months since councillors voted unanimously to call for tenders to appoint an independent probity auditor following advice by the Local Government Inspectorate that due process had not been followed with Cr Kevin Bourke saying at the time he was “disappointed” the probity audit had been delayed for a “technicality” and added “it worries me that when the audit does happen, and believe me it will happen, what it will reveal”.
Since then a confidential internal audit report on contract management and possible breaches of the Local Government Act was leaked to various media organisations which, according to CEO Mark Henderson, had impacted on the possibility of implementing an independent probity audit.
Mr Pawar, however, stressed he did not want there to be any confusion between the independent probity audit and the leaked confidential internal audit.
“These are two separate issues,” he said.
“Nevertheless I would like to know why legal advice given to councillors earlier this year said tenders must be called for the independent probity audit when the total amount to be spent was only $60,000 with the contract already awarded to Albury-based Rob Salisbury & Associates.
“Only work of $80,000 and above must be put out for tender so why there was this issue is beyond me.”
The petition was first brought to the attention of councillors at the June ordinary meeting held in Numurkah where the ‘audit action group’ attempted to present it to council but were rejected because of incorrect procedure, with Cr Mansfield telling the group the petition had to be presented at a customer service centre and not at a council meeting.
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