Templeman reads riot act to Port Hedland council

Glenn Cordingley and Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Minister for Local Government David Templeman visited the Town of Port Hedland council in June.
Camera IconMinister for Local Government David Templeman visited the Town of Port Hedland council in June.

The man tasked with getting the Town of Port Hedland Council back on an even keel following the suspension of all nine elected members has vowed to not shut out ratepayers by giving them time to speak with him to air their grievances.

Minister for Local Goverment David Templeman, left, last week appointed City of Mandurah councillor Fredrick Riebeling as a commissioner to administer the troubled council in the wake of complaints surrounding bullying, poor decision making, harassment, in-fighting, and dysfunction.

Mr Riebeling said he would make time for members of the community to speak to him about matters of concern.

“I will be open to people who wish to speak to me at least on a semi-formal basis of once a fortnight, for people to come and have a yack about issues they want to have a yack about,” he said.

Mr Riebeling said the decision-making process would continue as usual with the monthly council meetings.

“The only difference will be it’s me sitting there instead of the councillors, and people will still be able to ask questions, it will still be live streamed, all those things will remain the same,” he said.

The suspension means councillors will be forbidden from engaging with council staff or making decisions.

The terms for four elected members expire in October, leaving five to return at the end of the six-month ban. Local Government elections in Port Hedland were due to be held in October but they were now likely to happen in January or February next year.

Suspended Mayor Camillo Blanco said it was a disappointing result for a council that had achieved so much in a relatively short space of time but the action revolved around the significant nature of complaints he submitted.

“I am hoping the subsequent investigation will result in the community understanding their elected members should conduct themselves to a high standard and play their roles by the book,” he said.

Mr Templeman said the council failed to provide any compelling reasons or justification to allay concerns about its future capacity to govern following a show cause notice issued last month.

“Ratepayers and residents of the Town of Port Hedland are entitled to expect that their elected members will provide leadership for the community and effectively manage and control operations in the town,” he said.

ToPH chief executive David Pentz said the council administration respected the decision.

“This is an opportunity for us to look forward as an organisation, and we trust the people who live here will stand by our staff as we endeavour to further improve the way we deliver great outcomes for the community,” he said.

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