Authorised Inquiry into the City of Cockburn

The City of Cockburn's response to The Sunday Times, 13 May 2021 about the authorised inquiry into the City of Cockburn

Question: Why did Mr Downing not get authorisation from Council to spend approximately $190,000 in legal cost during a Fair Work Commission proceedings involving former chief executive Stephan Cain. And why did Mayor Howlett and Councillor Allen also use the legal firm’s to provide witness statements, when the costs were not authorised by council?

Answer: The Council will have 35 days after the receipt of the report formally in writing from Minister Carey, expected to be next week some time, to review the report and prepare a response, if required. The City is not in a position to comment on specifics until this process is complete.

However, we can say that these matters were assessed by the inquiry and no specific recommendations were made in regards to any person including others named in the report, with the recommendations being generic in nature and relating to the Council as a whole. There were no sanctions recommended against any elected member or staff member. 

It is the City’s understanding that none of these matters were deemed serious enough to warrant any action beyond the recommendations that the City undergo an independent governance review and arrange training for its Elected Members and Executive.

The City also provided the Sunday Times with the following Statement:
The City welcomes the finalisation of the Inquiry announced in April 2020 and the tabling of the report in Parliament on 12 May 2021. 

Council will now review the findings and recommendations and, if required, make a response to the Minister within the designated 35 days. 

The Council commenced a significant transformation process commencing with the appointment of a new CEO, Mr Tony Brun in February 2021. Mr Brun comes with extensive local government and private sector executive experience. Mr Brun has already undertaken organisational and process reviews and will be working closely with Council, through its elected members, to continue its journey of improvement and seeking to set the benchmark for governance, process and service excellence. 

Mayor Logan Howlett has reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to work closely with the Department and also the new Minister, the Hon. John Carey MLA to identify opportunities for review and improvement. 

He said, I note the Office of the Auditor Generals’ recent Report into the Department of Local Government and the opportunities identified for the Department to work more closely with local government. 

I am also heartened by the new Minister for Local Government, the Hon. John Carey MLA who has indicated his preferred approach where an allegation is made about a local government for an early intervention approach by the Department to resolve local issues without resourcing extensive inquiries that on average take approximately 20 months to produce an outcome. That is a win-win for local government and their communities. 

In the meantime, the City of Cockburn has a strong focus on rolling out its extensive community and road/drainage/dual use path infrastructure projects and providing a large range of important and quality services to its growing community. 

The recent independent MARKYT Community Scorecard ranked the City of Cockburn in the top 16% of forty three benchmarked West Australian local governments, for the combined measure of ‘governing organisation’ and a ‘place to live’.

For more information contact

Media and Communications Officer
City of Cockburn

Email [email protected]

Phone 08 9411 3551

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.