CONCERNED: Letter Writer Ian Peterson said Council's lack of transparency when it comes to releasing the water and sewage report from 2016 raises serious questions. Photo is of Gympie Town Hall.
CONCERNED: Letter Writer Ian Peterson said Council's lack of transparency when it comes to releasing the water and sewage report from 2016 raises serious questions. Photo is of Gympie Town Hall. Leeroy Todd

Council is hypocritical, not transparent after hiding report

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

THE release of the report on the council's water and sewerage operations, which was achieved by The Gympie Times through a Right to Information application and which the council fought so hard to keep secret, raises some serious questions.

The council has vehemently claimed that the new structure is advisory only and there is no intention to sell it off to a third party, but can we believe them? If this is in fact true, why did they not establish it under section 265 of the Local Government Act which legislates the establishment of advisory committees?

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Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald. Renee Albrecht

Instead, it was established by council resolution citing section 28 of the LGA. S28 has some very prescriptive requirements, requiring the entity to be granted autonomy and authority to act independently.

It also requires that the entity operate at arm's length from the council, so in effect, it makes the water and sewerage operation an independent entity which in turn makes it marketable.

Its separation under S28 would allow it to be sold or divested to a third party. Was this the reason for the resolution under S28?

Council's secrecy into releasing a report on their water and sewage in 2016 raises serious questions, says Ian Peterson.
Council's secrecy into releasing a report on their water and sewage in 2016 raises serious questions, says Ian Peterson. Warwick Daily News

What other reason could there be for the restructure? It is now quite a long time since I left the council but I know that when I was there the department was very viable.

It operated at a profit, contributing to general revenue and also building up reserves to cover future infrastructure improvements and replacements.

At the same time, costs to the consumer were kept at an affordable rate.

I fail to see how inserting another layer of bureaucracy can do anything but reduce efficiency and increase consumer costs.

Councillor Bob Fredman. Gympie Regional Council.
Councillor Bob Fredman. Gympie Regional Council. Renee Albrecht

How can the council be so cynical and hypocritical as to suggest that they released the report "in the interests of transparency” when they have done everything they could to keep it secret?

That is disrespectful to the community and an insult to our intelligence. And could their decision to "come clean” at this time be influenced by the fact that Cr Bob Fredman is currently on leave?

I am sure there will be some questions for him on his return regarding the report which covers the state of the Water and Sewerage Department when he was the director responsible.

Ian Petersen,

Gympie

Gympie Times


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