Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PLANNING and LOCAL GOVERNMENT, Mr GUTWEIN
People in the Huon are asking me why you have moved to hold a Glenorchy Council election in January but have not done the same thing for the Huon Valley. Both councils had serious allegations of staff and councillor misconduct and financial mismanagement that resulted in their councils being dismissed and a board of inquiry process. Both councils are under administration. Glenorchy Council has not yet even finished their board of inquiry process. Why are you forcing Glenorchy residents to go to the polls twice in nine months? Don't you have any faith in the Glenorchy administrator? You said you would end the uncertainty and restore democracy to Glenorchy residents, so why don't Huon residents deserve the same democracy and certainty as well? Isn't the real reason that you need to do whatever you can to neutralise Kristie Johnston's potential pulling power in Denison and to shore up the Liberal Party's chances for the state election?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. Let me work backwards for her.
First, in regard to the current mayor - albeit suspended - of Glenorchy, nothing will fetter her opportunity to run in the state election. In fact, we currently have a mayor of Clarence who is running in Pembroke. Nothing fetters Ms Johnston in regard to what her future aspirations might be.
Second, I made it clear yesterday that there will not be two elections within nine months in Glenorchy. There will be one election next year.
Ms Woodruff interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. The Treasurer has the call and interjections should cease. The question has been put and hopefully the members would respect the fact that the minister is now trying to answer the question. Please allow him that opportunity.
Mr GUTWEIN - The circumstances in the Huon are vastly different to the circumstances in Glenorchy.
Ms Woodruff - No, they're not.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. I warn the member for Franklin for interjecting.
Mr GUTWEIN - The circumstances in the Huon are vastly different to the circumstances in Glenorchy. The member is correct that there have been boards of inquiry conducted in both councils. The answer to her question was partly included in the question itself. One was able to have a board of inquiry that could report - the Huon - and in that report the commissioners provided two options. One was for directions to the council, and the other was to sack the council. We chose in the first instance to provide the opportunity for the council to be the master of its own
destiny and work to meet the requirements of the commissioners and the directions that were provided. It was unable to do so. Some of those directions have not been finished yet. I thought it was welcomed by you when I made the announcement that we would not be moving to an election in the Huon and they would remain under administration until the elections
next year because some of those directions have not been finished. The most appropriate way forward was to ensure that a new council in the Huon had the opportunity to start with a clean slate.
In regard to Glenorchy, the circumstances there are vastly different. There is a board of inquiry report -
Mr SPEAKER - Order. I am having trouble hearing the minister and I am sure there are other members in the Chamber who are also having difficulty because of the chatter in the background and the interjections. Please cease your interjections.
Mr GUTWEIN - There has been a board of inquiry investigation underway now for two years and that will still be ongoing, notwithstanding the fact that the Government is of the view, subject to the passage of the legislation through both Houses, that the councillors should be dismissed and we should move to an election. That process of the board of inquiry will continue.
It is a unique set of circumstances that we find in Glenorchy. The concern in the community is rising and it will rise again as a result of the Auditor-General's report which was made public this week. There is a need for action and therefore the Government has decided to act decisively and to return democracy to Glenorchy. Again, I make the point that nothing in respect of the actions that we have taken will fetter anybody from running in a state election next year.
In finishing, we believe the ratepayers and residents of Glenorchy now have both the opportunity and also the responsibility to elect the council that they want to guide their city into the future. I hope they take that opportunity and choose wisely.