Ombudsman investigation complete

Published on 14 January 2020


Council considered the final report from the Ombudsman surrounding usage of the Civic Centre at an Extraordinary Meeting last night.

Council attracted the attention of the Ombudsman in 2017 after holding events in the Centre whilst only having occupation of the auditorium area.

In May 2017 Council's General Manager, James Roncon, was informed that Council had not received full occupation of the building just hours before the 2017 Civic Ball was to be staged.

Rather than cancel the Ball at short notice, Council proceeded with the event after putting safety precautions in place to block access to areas that were identified as being potentially unsafe.

The Ombudsman also expressed concern that Council switched audio visual (AV) suppliers during construction to install a larger AV system in the refurbished centre.

The final report was discussed at last night's extraordinary meeting, and Mayor Darriea Turley AM said its contents were largely as expected. 

"We acknowledged from the outset that the Civic Centre was used without full occupation, and procurement guidelines were inadvertently crossed by changing the AV supplier during the project build," she said.

"This report reaffirmed those facts and set out some recommendations for Council which were adopted tonight.

"We'll now work with Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Office of Local Government if they wish to pursue any parts of the report or use it to consider existing legislation.

"We'll also provide the full report to the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee to ensure they remain fully informed on this matter."

Mayor Turley said she understood the seriousness of the matters raised by the Ombudsman, and would discuss any further required training with the General Manager to ensure Council doesn't find itself in a similar situation in future.

"We'll have those discussions and see if there's any gaps that we can work on, but I think it's also important to remember that all decisions made around the Civic Centre were undertaken with the best of intentions under very difficult circumstances," she said.

"If the General Manager had his time again he'd probably do things a little differently, but I think he did what he genuinely believed to be the right thing by the debutantes and their families at the time.

"It was an unfortunate situation for all involved and we've all learned from it."

Tagged as: