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Smoke and mirrors

Tuesday, 1st February, 2011

By Stefan Delatovic

Councillors often do not have enough information to make informed f inancial decisions, according to Clr Bob Algate.

Speaking after last week's monthly meeting of Council, Clr Algate said he and fellow councillors bore financial responsibility but were not always given the full picture.

He gave the Accessible Outback visitor information publication as an example. Council's Tourism Advisory Group had completed a tender process to find a producer for the publication, with their progress outlined in a report.

Clr Algate felt councillors should have been involved before that point. "I understand this is cost neutral, but there's obviously tens of thousands of dollars involved. 

It seems foreign that a 355 committee can make these decisions without input from councillors," he said. 

Acting General Manager Des Bilske said the committees only recommended an outcome for councillors to approve, but Clr Algate said reports often lacked the information needed to do anything more than apply a rubber stamp.

Similarly, while Clr Algate said he was all in favour of the Frost group working to "re-brand" the city, he did not recall being involved in a tender process.

"We are being asked to endorse it but we've already received a briefing from them as the successful tender," he said.

Mr Bilske said Frost had been appointed by the General Manager under his delegation. 

Clr Algate said that was fine, but that delegations were often assigned with a sentence hidden within a much larger document. "Councillors need to go through volumes of reports to untangle decisions," he said.

"I don't believe anything is being intentionally hidden from councillors, but there are a lot of smoke and mirrors.

"It should be incumbent on policy to highlight areas where councillors are giving away their powers."

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