Ex-MP’s fears for council

SPEAKING OUT: Former Labor MP Peter Loney has fears for council representation under the Andrews government's administrators.


Geelong’s new council of administrators could leave ratepayers unrepresented and disenfranchised, one of the city’s former state Labor MPs has warned.
Peter Loney, Lara MP from 1992 to 2006, said he was concerned after writing to interim administrator Yehudi Blacher but receiving only a “pro forma-type” reply that failed to answer his questions.
The Andrews government installed administrators Kathy Alexander, Laurinda Gardner and Peter Dorling on 24 May after sacking Geelong’s council in April.
“We’re entitled to expect that there’ll still be a real and proper attempt to involve the community,” Mr Loney said.
“I’m alarmed that the three administrators will operate like a board of a company. Geelong is not a company, it’s government.
“You cannot simply say the community will be denied representation for 18 months. They have to come up with a way to involve the community.
“There needs to be a public diary of who they’re meeting with and for what purpose.”
Mr Loney said community organisations such as football clubs denied funding deserved to be heard.
“Will the administrators meet with the footy clubs that were denied funding and listen to what they have to say?
“These are three career bureaucrats and not one has a background of community representation and that’s not good enough.
“They have to be held to account as strongly as any elected council was.”
Mr Loney said a commission of inquiry report that led to the council’s sacking was “scathing on the culture of the bureaucracy”.
“If these people are going to sit back and just act on reports from the bureaucracy how are they going to address those issues raised in the report?
“Will Peter Dorling sever his ties with Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Avalon Airport and the Committee for Geelong, all potentially organisations he may have to vote on as a commissioner?
“We need to know how he’s going to manage his conflicts of interest because at the moment he’s heavily conflicted.”
Mr Loney said the inquiry report focused on a history of bullying and harassment in City Hall’s bureaucracy but he had heard that it was still ongoing.
“If nothing much has been done about that and it has continued since the council was dismissed that would be worrying,” he said.