Report spells out failings of former Exmouth leaders

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoProjection and pyrotechnic display to open the Ningaloo Centre in Exmouth

A damning auditors report has laid bare the shortcomings in governance of the Shire of Exmouth under the previous executive team.

Auditor Moore Stephens was called in to prepare a report on the Shire’s finances up to June 30, 2017, after a period which saw the former council disbanded and former chief executive brought before a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation.

The new council and executive team have begun to pick up the pieces and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing under the current group, but the report provides insight into what went wrong under the previous regime.

It details missing information in rates notices, deteriorating finances and shortcomings in adhering to the Local Government Act.

Shire of Exmouth president Matthew Niikkula said the Shire had acted to address the issues identified in the audit.

“At its March meeting council resolved that any surplus generated in this year’s budget should be put into reserve to manage assets going forward,” he said.

“At February’s council meeting I took the opportunity to address those present about the Shire’s level of compliance with the Local Government Act.

“I am proud that after the poor performance in 2016, our compliance audit return indicated that compliance was much improved.”

The Ningaloo Centre was singled out by auditor David Tomasi as having a big impact on the Shire’s finances.

“Based on our knowledge of the project and its outcomes, it will place a significant operational and maintenance requirement on the operations for what is likely to be a significant time into the future,” he said.

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said the cost of running the centre was no different to that of services provided by any other local government.

“The (Ningaloo Centre) provides opportunities for people who can’t swim on the reef or do any of those activities the chance to come in and see Exmouth,” he said.

“As well as that, it ensures Exmouth has a convention centre to cater for business tourism clientele.”

He said the centre would bring more tourists to Exmouth, resulting in more employment and income.

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