Casey Council Sacked Following Corruption Allegation


The beleaguered City of Casey in Melbourne will be sacked after a bill forcing the removal of its current councillors was introduced in the Victorian parliament on Tuesday.

Parliament moved to dismiss Casey City council after a report from municipal monitor Laurinda Gardner cited clear evidence of “significant governance failures”.

The move will also defer the next election for Casey until 2024.

Gardner was appointed in November following allegations that council planning and property development decisions had been influenced by donations from a property developer.

The council has been at the centre of an investigation by the state corruption watchdog the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) into allegations of serious corrupt conduct in relation to planning and property development decisions at the City of Casey council.

Casey council had been plagued by bribery allegations relating to councillors Sam Aziz and Geoff Ablett regarding their relationship with developer John Woodman.

Related: Entire Logan Council Sacked

John Woodman is the developer at the centre of the Victorian anti-corruption commission’s investigation
▲ John Woodman is the developer at the centre of the Victorian anti-corruption commission’s investigation.

The former Casey mayor, Aziz, resigned from the Liberal party last week.

Councillors Timothy Jackson and Rex Flannery resigned from council after the report, made public on Tuesday, was presented.

The initial phase of the IBAC public examinations ran from 18 November to 6 December 2019, with examinations scheduled to recommence on 2 March.

While there have been no findings or charges yet, government decided to act.

The IBAC’s public examinations will focus on the transparency and integrity of planning and property development decision making in Victoria, including the provision of donations and in kind assistance to candidates at State and local government elections that may give rise to actual or perceived corruption

It will also focus on whether public officers involved in planning and property development decision making have been influenced through donations, gifts, pro bono services or other hospitality.

“This a very serious measure but it’s essential that Casey residents get a council that works in their interests,” Minister for local government Adem Somyurek said following the dismissal.

In the report, Gardner also found that councillors failed to effectively and transparently manage conflicts of interest, and had protected their reputations ahead of the interests of council.

The monitor’s report recommends council be dismissed until after the local government elections in October this year, making the next eligible election for Casey Council in October 2024.

An interim administrator will be appointed to ensure the functions of council continue once the Bill receives Royal Assent.

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