National

Vic parliament nod to sack Casey council

By AAP Newswire

The scandal-plagued Casey council in Melbourne is being dumped, after an independent monitor observed "significant governance failures" at the authority.

But the step means people living in the southeastern local government area may have to wait until 2024 to elect fresh representatives.

Legislation enabling the council to be sacked cleared Victoria's parliament just hours after being introduced on Tuesday, paving the way for interim administrators to be appointed once the laws receive royal assent.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has been investigating allegations of corrupt conduct involving councillors and property developers in the City of Casey.

In November the state government appointed a monitor of its own, experienced board director Laurinda Gardner, who recommended the sacking in a report made public on Tuesday.

She says alleged bullying, intimidation and other inappropriate conduct among councillors has gone unchecked, due to fear of conflict or further intimidation.

Some councillors have also responded to the intense scrutiny of IBAC by prioritising their own reputations, rather than the reputation of the council.

Ms Gardner said due to "significant governance failures at the council", they should be dismissed and administrators appointed, with locals not voting in Victoria's council elections in October.

"I do not have confidence in the ability of the Casey City Council to meet its statutory obligations," she wrote.

Victorian Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek said the government drafted the dumping laws as Victorians deserved the highest standards of governance and integrity from their local governments.

"Unfortunately, what the monitor found was something well below those expectations," he told reporters.

He acknowledged some councillors doing the right thing will be swept up in the sacking, but said it wasn't possible under current laws to cherrypick some councillors and not others.

IBAC investigators have been trying to find out if councillors accepted undeclared payments, gifts or other benefits in exchange for favourable council outcomes.

City of Casey Mayor Susan Serey said she was greatly disappointed by the dismissal.

"Councillors have done everything possible to remain a high performing council that continues to make decisions in the interests of our communities," she said in a statement.

"I am at a loss to see why and how the state government can justify their decision, when we have cooperated fully with any investigations while clearly demonstrating that we have been able to govern and meet our responsibilities."

The government says their preference is that residents don't vote until the next council elections in 2024, but the opposition would prefer a shorter timeframe.

Some crossbenchers in the upper house moved failed amendments that would have meant elections sooner.

Liberal MP Bruce Atkinson also broke ranks with his party to vote the bill, lamenting the long timeframe.