Former City of Perth councillors and staff could face criminal charges after an inquiry into the dysfunctional local government made hundreds of findings and recommendations.
The probe was launched following a failure by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to disclose travel and gifts, reports of infighting between councillors, two chief executives taking stress leave and the suspension of the council in March 2018.
Commissioner Tony Power has delivered his lengthy report, with more than 250 findings and 341 recommendations, after 125 days of hearings involving 104 witnesses.
In total, 39 people were given the opportunity to respond to adverse findings before the report was finalised, with 23 people and one organisation referred for possible prosecution.
“It is not the inquiry’s role to make findings of criminal conduct or corruption, but it was inevitable that it would uncover conduct giving rise to reasonable suspicion that laws have been broken,” Mr Power said on Tuesday.
“Such conduct has been referred to the appropriate Commonwealth and state authorities.”
The WA Police Force confirmed a “number of matters” were being investigated.
Mr Power said some witnesses were obstinate and it was disappointing that many chose to be obstructive during the inquiry.
He found Ms Scaffidi encouraged factionalism, while some councillors and staff engaged in unethical conduct.
“The trappings and privileges of high office, in the form of dining, clothing and grooming allowances, were exploited by some,” he said.
“They often did so for their own personal benefit, at the ratepayers’ expense and with little regard for the interests of the community.”
Mr Power said there had also been “a woeful failure to properly plan for the city’s future and adequately manage its finances”.
“The city was poorly led, poorly governed, dysfunctional and, as a result, failing in its most important duty – to properly represent and serve the needs and interests of its community.”
Steps have been taken to address many of the failings since the council was dumped, with commissioners running the City of Perth for the past couple of years. Elections are due in October.
Local Government Minister David Templeman has yet to publicly release the report, but said it would provide strong guidance for the review of the Local Government Act.
He said it should be an important wake-up call for all councils and brought an end to the “sorry saga”.
THE INQUIRY BY THE NUMBERS:
* Four million documents examined
* 30 matters scrutinised in 125 days of hearings involving 104 witnesses
* More than 250 findings and 341 recommendations
* 135 matters, many concerning suspected criminal behaviour, involving 23 people and one organisation have been referred to 17 authorities.