I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for State/Local Government Relations questions regarding the process for the former Chelsea Cinema.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The minister recently referred new complaints made to him about the lease process and actions of the Burnside council to the Ombudsman, the first of which I note was received last October. Both complaints accused the Burnside council of breaching sections of the Local Government Act prior to the announcement that the proprietors of the Trak Cinema would become the new leaseholder. My questions are:
1. Will the Ombudsman's report be made public?
2. Does the minister concede that the Ombudsman's powers under section 93A of the Local Government Act are less than his own investigative powers under section 272 of the act?
3. Does he acknowledge that problems within the previous council have not been fixed by the election of a new council?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:25): First of all, I read the article in the paper regarding me referring a second complaint to the Ombudsman. I must say that nobody ran the story past me. The story was written—
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: If a journalist is going to write a story regarding complaints about Burnside you would think they would contact my office—which they didn't. The complaints that we are talking about were both from the same person, who had just made the complaints. I do not know if there is any basis behind these complaints, but this person seems to be a serial complainer.
As I should have done and as I did, I referred any complaints regarding the Burnside council to the Ombudsman. Whether there is any substance to them or not I have no idea. I acknowledge the fact that the Burnside council now has an issue with the Chelsea Cinema, but the council seems to be governing Burnside in the way it should with good governance under the Local Government Act, so I wish them well in their future endeavours.
In regard to the powers that the Ombudsman has, they would be less than mine. As a minister I would prefer that every investigation about councils be done through the Ombudsman, who is at arm's length, and there can be no criticism of how the investigation takes place.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:26): I have a supplementary question. Does the minister believe that there are some ongoing processes at Burnside council that could be rectified and that the public does not have any confidence in the council?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:26): For a start I could not make a comment that the public does not have faith in the council. I do not get much feedback from the residents of Burnside complaining about the council, so I can only imagine that it is doing its job quite well.
The PRESIDENT: Order!