Transparency rules

WITH local government election campaigns already starting, the words transparency and accountability will no doubt be frequently used by the candidates, but how realistic are those promises?

The clear separation between elected members and the administration is demanded by the Local Government Act, so who is responsible for what, and are we often wrongly blaming the councillors, instead of the executive?

I am in no way an apologist for Fremantle council and will criticise them whenever I believe they deserve it, but elected members are not, and can not be involved in the daily management of our city. 

That’s the job of the CEO, directors and managers. 

Elected members are not allowed to direct staff, so even the mayor can only ask the CEO to address certain things with priority, but it ultimately up to him or her to do that or not.

Ask the mayor and councillors about their frustration when things are not done fast, when potholes remain just that all through the cold season, or why our footpaths are a mess. 

Ask them about their frustration over the lack of cleaning and maintenance, and you’ll understand that many of the issues raised by the public are outside their control.

So why is it then that the mayor is the only spokesperson? 

Why should mayors have to defend the shortcomings of the administration, when they have no say over it? 


Why should not Fremantle CEO Glen Dougall explain for example why the Jones Street site was bought, without doing rigorous due diligence and checks for contamination? 

Why should the public not be told if anyone was demoted for not doing their job? 

Why is the CEO not accountable to the public and conveniently leaves it to the mayor to do the explaining and getting the criticism?

To make it clear, this is not an attack on CEO Glen Dougall, a man I greatly respect and like, but I  do not understand that there appears to be very little accountability from the executive, that leaves all the explaining to the public and the media to mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge. 

Other councils operate the same way, supposedly because they don’t want confusing messages coming from the city, by having both the CEO and mayor as their spokespersons. 

That is a cop out for me. 

It makes the CEO and directors a small, near invisible target, whilst the mayor gets the ire of the public for it. That is not fair.

Ratepayers want to know who is responsible for signing a contract that paid the architects of the Walyalup Civic Centre reportedly millions of dollars. 

The community wants to know why suddenly the Knutsford Street depot site was no longer a development option, that would have generated huge revenue for our cash-strapped city. 

We want to know why the City developed Walyalup Koort without funding for new streetlights.

If we want real transparency and accountability, we need to demand the CEO to step up and explain, as well as the mayor, otherwise it will be just be the same old spin that explains little. That is not good enough.

Roel Loopers/Freoview

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