Posted on 08 November 2015.
EXCLUSIVE: The human resources manager of a council in Perth’s western suburbs has invoked the example of beleaguered Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to argue that training should be mandatory for all elected local officials.
In a report to her political masters, Town of Mosman Park HR Manager Cindy O’Dea opines: “It is often said that the people who most need professional development and specific training do not recognise that it is needed”.
“In itself this is a factor leading to problems,” Ms O’Dea continues.
“As recently as October 6 the Lord Mayor of Perth, Ms Lisa Scaffidi, is quoted as saying that when elected as Lord Mayor in 2008: ‘I was a brand new lord mayor and I was entitled to rely on the guidance offered by people far more experienced than me in terms of governance.’”
Ms O’Dea adds that: “According to sources on the internet, Ms Scaffidi had previously served for eight years as a councillor of the City of Perth”.
“This is offered only as an example that even after eight years of experience an elected member can be well served by training and development,” Ms O’Dea explains.
“In fact, the Minister for Local Government, Hon Tony Simpson said (in relation [to] Ms Scaffidi) that the issue was evidence that greater training of councillors was needed.
“He also said, ‘What we have here is a classic example of not knowing the rules, which tells me we need more training of councillors so they understand the rules of the Local Government Act.'”
Last month, Ms Scaffidi became the subject of Corruption and Crime Commission opinions of serious midsconduct over her failure to declare luxury international and domestic travel and accommodation, for she and her property developer husband, that was funded by BHP-Billiton and property development company Hawaiian.
Ms O’Dea advises that limiting training to newly elected mayors, shire presidents and councillors “may be condemning it to failure”.
“It is clear from the public record that it is not only new elected members who require development,” she advises.
“For example the dismissed council of the City of Canning had many members who could not be described as new or inexperienced.
“A casual review of the council members at (the relevant time) of Carnarvon, Cockburn, Joondalup and South Perth (all of which have had the council dismissed) will show that experienced elected members were on those councils.
“Inexperience in terms of years on the council could not have been the factor that caused the council to fail.”
In response to a WA Local Government Association discussion paper which canvasses a range of training options for elected officials, Ms O’Dea recommends that Mosman Park council support mandatory training.
WALGA has asked Mosman Park and Western Australia’s other 138 councils to respond to its discussion paper by November 13.
South Australia has been the only state to mandate the training of local elected officials.
Cropped photograph of Lisa Scaffidi by Gnangarra … commons.wikimedia.org under creative commons licence.