Local Governments have rejected suggestions of widespread mismanagement and even corruption in regional Councils.

In media statements the Corruption and Crime Commission has extrapolated misconduct at the Shire of Exmouth to “structural weaknesses in the sector”.

WA Local Government Association President Cr Lynne Craigie said any presumption that all regional Councils were mismanaged was unfair and inaccurate.

Cr Craigie said the CCC had taken the position on the sector after misconduct at two Councils and following a report last year that examined 10 Councils, of which five volunteered to be reviewed.

“The Local Government sector accepts significant issues with a small number of Councils and does not set out to defend those who have done wrong, but also should not share in the blame,” Cr Craigie said.

“For the CCC Commissioner to claim that Councils have very little idea of their responsibilities or don’t have the required skills is an unfair generalisation and an insult to most who work hard for their communities.”

While the CCC has received 700 allegations against WA Councils in the past two years, it has had more than 8500 allegations against State Government departments and agencies. 

As to the impact, last year the Health Department failed with $40 million in unauthorised spending on just one contract. In context $40 million is the total annual budget of about five smaller Councils.   

Cr Craigie said if the CCC was convinced of widespread mismanagement in Local Government, in spite of its own data, then it should join with WALGA to advocate for increased funding for training.

“The previous State Government had funded Local Government training programs through WALGA which were well supported. It was a good start and should be continued,” she said. 

“The Local Government sector will accept criticism that is fair and constructive but wide ranging presumptions are not at all just or reasonable, based on the actual evidence.”