How Gympie council dropped the ball on its biggest risks
GYMPIE councillors have claimed a culture of resistance was behind a four-year failure to investigate and manage some of its biggest risks.
This shortfall reared its head at yesterday’s council meeting when governance officer Brian Hayes welcomed changes to the reporting on the latest Audit and Risk Committee meeting.
This included a recommendation for CEO Shane Gray to report back on requests made by the group, which provides independent oversight on risks to the council.
It was the first time this recommendation had been made, Mr Hayes said.
“For the past four years the council received its statutory reports and didn’t really challenge (them),” Mr Hayes said.
“I have raised for years the role of the committee is to make recommendations.”
The onus was then on councillors to make decisions, and they were within their rights to ask the committee to look at specific concerns.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said efforts were made to have problems looked at but in the end it was “more effective to p-- into a cyclone”.
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“We had four years of the committee and never had a request for the CEO to do anything,” he said.
The Rattler was a prime example.
In 2018, Councillor Bob Fredman queried why the controversial train and its multimillion-dollar blowouts was continually overlooked by the Audit and Risk Committee.
Then-CEO Bernard Smith said the committee was about “systems and process” and the Rattler fell outside this charter.
However, he said the group had been given verbal updates about the controversial train.
Mr Fredman continued to push for the committee to review the venture, but said yesterday he did not think that had been achieved even two years later.
Councillor Dan Stewart said there had been “resistance from certain persons” into exploring things like financial management concerns.
These were ultimately laid bare in a scathing report from accountancy firm CPA Australia in May.
Mr Fredman said this was clear as day within the committee, which did not have any of the CPA report’s identified problems listed on its list of the council’s top 20 operational risks.
“It was something for the past four years the committee completely missed,” Mr Fredman said.
“Four years we’ve completely missed the boat thinking about what’s wrong with the organisation.”