Yesterday, on 6 December 2021, having regard to the findings in the Report of the Public Inquiry into the Norfolk Island Regional Council (NIRC) – and in accordance with the requirements and my authority under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (NI) (Act) – I made the decision to dismiss the elected members of Council and appoint an Administrator.
Commissioner Carolyn McNally submitted her final report on the Public Inquiry into the NIRC to the Australian Government on 4 November 2021 and it has now been publicly released.
The public inquiry examined whether the NIRC fulfilled its financial and asset management obligations under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (NI) (Act).
The public inquiry report identified significant instances where the NIRC did not manage its finances in accordance with the principles of effective financial and asset management.
The inquiry findings follow the independent audit reports from 2020 which recommended wide-ranging changes and improvements to NIRC governance, financial performance, financial sustainability, and operations, systems and processes.
I have appointed Mr Michael Colreavy, who has been interim Administrator during the public inquiry, as Administrator, for three years, until 2024. Mr Colreavy has 37 years’ experience in the local government sector at metropolitan, regional and rural councils, including holding various general manager positions.
I made these decisions because I am fully committed to achieving the best outcomes for the Norfolk Island community by pursuing an effective and sustainable local council in Norfolk Island.
This course of action will provide the best possible way to strengthen the operation, performance and sustainability of the Council and ensure it is able to serve the best interests of the local community into the future. I have asked Mr Colreavy to continue with the Transition to Sustainability program that addresses the recommendations of the Nexia and Grassroots audit reports and to take into account the Commissioner’s findings from the inquiry.
I also support Mr Colreavy continuing to engage through NIRC’s recently established Advisory Committees to ensure community involvement in, and visibility of, Council decision-making and strategic direction.
I will continue to keep the time period for administration under review, with consideration to be given to a shorter administration if the pace and progress of reforms supports this.
The final report is now available on the department’s website: www.infrastructure.gov.au/territoriesregions-cities/territories/norfolk-island/governance-administration/public-inquiry