Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Local Government spokesperson
The Minister for Local Government revealed in Parliament today that he is considering charging the Huon Valley Council with the costs of their mediation process.
It's outrageous to bill Huon ratepayers, given Minister Gutwein refused to take the advice of the independent Board of Inquiry, which strongly recommended not going down that path.
The last three months have been a waste of time and energy for councillors and staff of the Huon Valley Council. They were forced through a process that was designed to fail from the beginning.
Given the deadlock between councillors, along with the Board of Inquiry recommendation, Minister Gutwein should never have directed a mediation process be undertaken. It's unreasonable for him to expect ratepayers to pay for his mistake.
Minister Gutwein said it would be unfair that ratepayers in Hobart and Flinders Island should have to pay for mediation in the Huon Valley. Instead of blaming voters and ratepayers in the Huon, he should take a look the mirror. Mediation costs are the result of his decision to ignore the Board of Inquiry.
It's unacceptable to blame Huon Valley residents for their dysfunctional Council, and then to hand them a bill. Why should Huon residents pay for the turmoil that has been inflicted on them for the past three months because of Minister Gutwein’s poor judgement?
The Board of inquiry cost the State Government $258,000. This cost could also have been avoided if Peter Gutwein had acted on the many letters of complaint from residents and councillors in the months leading up to the Board of Inquiry.
Minister Gutwein refused to step in and take action at the start of the process, and now he needs to bear the cost of his inaction, instead of charging the people of the Huon Valley.