Town ranks highly in probe figures

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco at the South Hedland Square Shopping Centre.
Camera IconPort Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco at the South Hedland Square Shopping Centre. Credit: The West Australian, Simon Santi The West Australian

Complaints and concerns about the Town of Port Hedland are coming from all directions as Mayor Camilo Blanco reveals he was personally responsible for many of them in the past 18 months.

The Town of Port Hedland had the third-highest number of Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries investigations over the past four years, according to figures tabled in Parliament.

The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley had the highest number at 103, ahead of the Shire of York (52), the Town of Port Hedland (41), and the cities of Melville (33) and Perth (31).

The figures represent investigations, not just complaints, but do not include correspondence outlining grievance or dissatisfaction related to local government. Mr Blanco said he was not surprised by the outcome, admitting he personally had made “about 40” complaints in the past 18-24 months.

“I’ve submitted a number of breaches and it’s my responsibility to ensure that the Local Government Act is upheld in all areas and the standard of the Town of Port Hedland council remains at the extreme high level and that our councillors are above reproach — and if that means I have to submit breaches on councillors then that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

“It was highlighted recently in the City of Perth incidents whether the mayor had 40-odd breaches on her on financial-related issues.

“In my opinion, because the department ... acted very slowly, councillors across the State get the impression that they can look at the department as weak and they can get away with breaching the laws around financial interests.”

According to a Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries spokeswoman, the 41 probes included serious and minor breaches of the Act.

“Not all records in the database result in an investigation, however the department assesses each record and takes action accordingly,” she said.

“Local Government Standards Panel matters are included in this figure.”

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