Minister for Local Government Paul Toole today announced the temporary suspension of Auburn’s councillors and the appointment of an administrator while a public inquiry into the council is underway.
“After careful consideration of Auburn City Council’s submission and given the serious nature of the allegations the council is facing, it is clear that it is in the public interest to temporarily suspend the council during the course of the inquiry,” Mr Toole said.
“I have not taken the decision to suspend Auburn City Council lightly.
“The current public inquiry is examining allegations that decisions made by the council in relation to planning and development matters may have inappropriately benefited a number of councillors.
“Given the inquiry’s terms of reference, I have determined that it is in the public interest to remove the councillors to ensure that no further binding decisions are made during the course of the inquiry.
“Auburn ratepayers deserve a strong council that is acting in their best interests. The only way to achieve this is for me to temporarily suspend the Councillors so the inquiry can be undertaken effectively.”
The council has been suspended under section 438W of the Local Government Act 1993, with the appointment of an interim administrator under section 438Y of the Act. Under the Act, the Minister can only suspend the whole council, not individual councillors.
Mr Toole said Mr Viv May has been appointed as interim administrator during the course of the public inquiry. Mr May is widely acknowledged for his expertise in governance, ethics and probity. He is the former General Manager of Mosman Council and, more recently, Acting General Manager of Strathfield Council.
The decision to suspend will have no impact on the merger proposals relating to Auburn City Council.