A question put forward to the Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) regarding the Burnside Council.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:24): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for State/Local Government Relations a question regarding the Burnside council.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In his ministerial statement yesterday, entitled 'Independent Inquiry into Burnside Council', the minister stated that he had met with the Mayor of Burnside and that they had agreed that 'beyond the Burnside council matters, there are a number of issues that need to be discussed in relation to our system of local government', implying that the mayor agreed with the minister that the investigation should cease. Last night, the Burnside council issued a media released entitled 'Burnside community deserves to know,' which reads:
Burnside Council has expressed its disappointment in the State Government's decision to conclude the independent inquiry into the former Burnside Council. Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Russell Wortley, today announced that the report would not be released, despite the current Council's support to release it.
City of Burnside Mayor David Parkin said that Council had asked Minister Wortley to complete and release the MacPherson report and expressed disappointment that this will not occur. [The mayor said] 'I'm disappointed that the residents of Burnside won't get to see some form of the report but have been assured that Police will identify if any prosecution should be launched and that the Government and the Local Government Association..will review the act...
My questions are:
1. Has the minister assured Burnside council, directly or indirectly, that police will identify whether any prosecutions should be launched?
2. What processes does the government propose for that review by police?
3. In particular, do police have a copy of the draft investigator's report, and will they have access to all records and documents of the investigator, Mr MacPherson?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:26): I had a meeting with Mr David Parkin yesterday, and I had a discussion about the views of the Burnside council. He expressed the view that there was a view in the area that the—
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting:
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Lots of views—that is the problem: there are so many views. That is one of the reasons I got rid of it: everyone has a view. I have a responsibility to make sure that it is all done properly with the proper processes. I assured Mr Parkin that, outside the Burnside council and this issue, there may be issues with certain parts of the Local Government Act that could be looked at between myself and the Local Government Association—
The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: I am answering the question.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Well, let me finish, and I will answer the question.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Let me finish the answer.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Obviously, they don't want to hear the answer, so I am quite happy to sit down.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink has a supplementary.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:27): Yes, Mr President. What police investigations has the minister spoken to the council about, and will he provide those to us?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:27): First of all, I will just say that I have ended the inquiry. There will be an office of public integrity established to look at these issues in the future. What I want to do with the Local Government Association and the councils is look at the Local Government Act and see whether we can develop the tools in that act to enable the councils to stop this happening in he future.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Can Hansard hear me up there? I am having difficulty hearing myself. My responsibility as the Minister for State/Local Government Relations is to ensure that, if there are any obstacles in the Local Government Act in the way of providing the proper tools for councils to take care of these legal issues before they become festering sores, I will do that. I am looking forward to meeting with the new President of the Local Government Association, and we will sit and work together and ensure that the proper tools are developed in the act—
The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Let me make it quite clear. I do not know the rabble you have been in the past. I am happy to answer your questions, but if you are going to interrupt in three directions, I will sit down and not answer your questions. So, just pull your heads in let me have a go.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink has a further supplementary.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:28): Can the minister provide details as to what the mayor said to him in regard to police investigations?
The PRESIDENT: The minister does not have to worry about that question.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:29): I had a discussion with the mayor yesterday and, to be quite frank, not a lot went around. My view was quite simple: I want to work with the Local Government Association, and they were there at the meeting. My position with the mayor is that there is a new council, and they will have a new CEO very shortly and I do not want any tarnishing of that council with an ongoing investigation in relation to what happened with the previous council.
This is what a responsible minister would do—would not sit there and throw comments from the side. From the very beginning it has been this government's intention to fix up the problems in the Burnside council. From the very beginning all you have done is try to political pointscore, so there is a big difference between what I am doing, what this government has done, and what your intentions are. My intentions are to ensure that the Burnside city council can move forward and look after the ratepayers of Burnside, as they are doing right now.