An administrator has been appointed for the District Council of Coober Pedy after the council was declared to have defaulted.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll made the recommendation, based on an extensive Ombudsman’s Report finalised in July 2018 which demonstrated serious failings and irregularities at the Council.
The recommendation was ratified by the Governor today with the appointment of Tim Jackson as administrator.
“In his Report, the Ombudsman stated that the Council’s many failures in regard to the negotiation and execution of a $198 million Power Purchase Agreement with Energy Generation Pty Ltd ‘remains one of the most serious examples of maladministration in public administration’ he had observed ‘since the relevant provisions of the ICAC Act were enacted’,” said Minister Knoll.
“Following the receipt of the Report, I gave the Council two opportunities to make submissions on its findings, and on the proposed actions to declare the Council to be defaulting.
“This included providing the Council that was elected in November 2018 an opportunity to respond on these matters. However, after closely considering these submissions, I have recommended that the appropriate course of action to address the serious failings identified by the Ombudsman is for the Council to be put into administration.
“I also note that the Ombudsman’s findings were supported by a lengthy examination of the Council by the Auditor-General that was released on 4 December 2018. The Auditor-General also identified significant failings and deficiencies in the Council’s financial management and position.
“Given the extent and seriousness of the problems at the Council, it’s time to do what is necessary to make sure that the Council is placed on a secure footing, and can provide the Coober Pedy community with the high standard of administration and service that it needs.”
Mr Jackson is a highly regarded member of South Australia’s local government community, with extensive experience as a senior council manager, including 18 years as the Chief Executive Officer of one of South Australia’s largest councils, the City of Playford.
It is important to note that while an Administrator has been appointed, the Council has not been ‘sacked’. The Governor’s proclamation essentially suspends the Council. Another proclamation will need to be made within the next twelve months that either re-instates the current Council, or calls for a general election to replace it.
The State Government will consider further action when Mr Jackson has been in place for some time. A general council election cannot be called until the Administrator has been in place for at least three months.