GESAC, LAWYERS & LIQUIDATED DAMAGES

Buried in the financial report we finally, after several months silence, get some more comment on the tussle with Hansen & Yuncken. Problems are far from resolved. How much this is costing ratepayers in legal fees is anyone’s guess. But we can at least be certain that it is not chicken feed and that there are some very real problems with the construction of GESAC itself. Here’s what’s been disclosed –

The GESAC construction contract was entered into between Council and Hansen Yuncken in December 2009, for an amount of $41.2M. The defects liability period has been extended under the contract and the final certificate of completion will not be issued until at least May 2014. Council has paid $39.99M against the contract. The contract provides for mechanisms to determine matters in dispute.

There are a number of issues concerning the building of the centre which are currently in dispute. They include the delay in completion of the centre (liquidated damages), variations, and back charges for use of Council utilities during construction and defects. The matters are the subject of proceedings brought by Council. A Directions Hearing has been adjourned to 23 August 2013.

It would seem that another $122,000 has been ploughed into GESAC this financial year (as carry over) and that’s on top of the previous $45,000 a few months back. Please note: we still do not know how many full time, part-time and casual staff are under the employ of council and how much this is costing per year. Transparency and accountability are the inevitable victims here especially when all figures are either fragmented or lumped together into a general, but vague number. We’d even go so far as to doubt whether councillors themselves have ever sighted a proper balance sheet or ledger that clearly itemises every single expense against every cent earned as income.

 

RECORDS OF ASSEMBLY

Revisions and amendments to the records continue unabated. At least 4 ‘alterations’ to the ‘minutes’ this time around. Rewriting history has become par for the course it would appear.

For the VERY FIRST TIME (August 13th) and well after the 5th August announcement by the Minister on the Residential Zones, we find the notation – Item 9.14: Mandatory Maximum Height Limits over all Residentially Zoned Land. Only after the fact does this major item surface in the Records of Assembly and its link to C110. For month after month the records of assembly have been nothing more than a deliberate attempt to camouflage and thus keep secret what was going on.

COUNCILLOR CODE OF CONDUCT

In the light of the above paragraph it’s quite laughable that one of the proposed changes to the code includes the insertion of the word ‘transparency’ – The business of the Council is conducted with efficiency, impartiality transparency and integrity.

One extraordinary new addition reads: 4.8.3 It is important that outside parties feel they can deal with Council in good faith and that officers can advise councillors in confidence. In order to achieve this Councillors should not distribute or disclose the contents of correspondence to or from Council or internal Council working documents unless it is for the benefit of Council and the Councillor group has agreed.

The noose tightens some more but the hypocrisy remains. That’s why Newton can decide to publish private correspondence of individuals and councillors as he has done in the past with equanimity?

Our last comment on this document draws readers’ attention to the glaring absence of ANY MENTION OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESSES BETWEEN COUNCILLORS AND STAFF, AND/OR THE PUBLIC. All that this code contains is a short blurb about disputes between councillors alone. Given this council’s history under Newton (ie investigation after investigation) the inclusion of protocols that deal with councillor/staff disputes would seem to be essential. Other councils that have been chosen for the Notice of Motion item have no problems in including such protocols in their codes of conduct – ie. Bayside; Boroondara, Greater Dandenong and Knox. There are plenty of others throughout the state – but NOT GLEN EIRA!

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