The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) has backed calls for an investigation into Burnside Council, but believes the council should be allowed to defend its reccord.
The President of the LGA Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis said she recognised the procedures under the Local Government Act and the process the Local Government Minister Gail Gago was moving through.
But she added that it was important for the council to reply to any allegations.
“The process of giving the council natural justice in responding to the preliminary investigation is an important one and people should not take the next steps for granted," she said.
“These are not processes that are undertaken lightly simply because particular issues have been sensationalised – it should be remembered that investigations have occurred in the past in other councils, albeit rarely, with outcomes which did not require the suspension of elected members.”
An investigation into the council was given the green light in an announcement by Gago yesterday following preliminary enquiries by the Office of State and Local Government Relations (OSLGR).
Gago has written to the council to ask for an explanation, as the Local Government Act requires. However, if the minister is not satisfied with its explanation an investigator will be appointed.
“Preliminary enquiries by the OSLGR have given me reason to believe that a formal independent investigation may be warranted,” Gago said.
“If so, Burnside could become the first South Australian council to be investigated under the Local Government Act in 15 years."
Mayor Lewis said the LGA would be offering its full support to the council.
“The LGA will remain available to assist should the council want advice about its position under the legislation,” she said.
Mayor of Burnside Council Wendy Greiner said the council would be discussing the announcement at a meeting scheduled for next week.