WCC response to who attended two big dinners and why

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A senior WCC manager paid for a $1470 dinner at Pippies restaurant last year, but who attended and why remains a mystery. Imagestock.

Carol Altmann – The Terrier

These were my questions about the two dinners:

i) the purpose of each dinner?

ii) the demonstrable outcome for Warrnambool as a result of each dinner?

iii) who signed off on the cost of each dinner?]

I will let the Warrnambool City Council response speak for itself. Here is it in full:

“We are aware you recently emailed questions relating to credit card expenditure to a councillor and Council officer.

This is Council’s response to those inquiries.

As we have previously advised, Council is fully aware of its reporting obligations to referral authorities and any actions that are required.  Those obligations are taken very seriously. The regulations around reporting responsibilities mean that Council cannot confirm whether a referral has been made and nor can Council provide publicity or commentary on the process.

The constraints on Council around the referral process have been made known to the media on several occasions in recent weeks.

The questions you have asked are also part of a current FOI inquiry initiated by you. Given these matters are yet to be finalised, it would be inappropriate to provide further detail at this time.

In addition to the above, at the recent Special Council meeting the following resolution was passed:

1a)       That Council, via the Audit & Risk Committee, immediately (Audit & Risk Committee Meeting of the 27 August 2019) engage an External Auditor to undertake an audit to review and assess the adequacy of:-

  • Existing policies, governance, reporting and investigation processes/procedures in the handling of the current credit card misuse issue that was identified in September 2018.

1b)       The scope of the audit to include:-

            SCOPE

Review the adequacy of Council policies, procedures and processes in relation to:-

  • Dealing with expenditure authorisation and delegation;
  • Trigger points for reporting (unusual transactions and/or misuse and/or fraud) to the Audit & Risk Committee (via confidentiality reports or meetings);
  • Trigger points when an auditor should be brought in (i.e. the period after unusual/misuse has been identified to when possible fraud is suspected);
  • Guidelines on “taking face value explanations” vs “appropriate inquiry”;
  • Guidelines to ensure there are procedures to mitigate and prevent the acceptance of face value assumptions;
  • Adding another layer of probity and transparency by providing trigger points for the use of an auditor.

1c)       Should the External Auditor require clarification of the scope of the audit, as outlined in 1b) then the Auditor shall communicate directly with Cr Neoh and Cr Cassidy and the Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee.

1d)       Once appointed, the External Auditor to meet, in camera with Cr Neoh, Cr Cassidy and the Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee, to outline the scope (in accordance with 1b).

1e)       That the External Auditor report directly to the subsequent (post 27 August 2019) Audit & Risk Committee Meeting or early if called by the Audit & Risk Committee Chairman.

2 thoughts on “WCC response to who attended two big dinners and why”

  1. This council response to your questions really only serves to reveal further concerns. Why is the External Auditor meeting in camera with Crs Neoh and Cassidy and the Chair of the A&R Committee? We can never understand the quality of the Auditor’s report if we don’t know the parameters of his audit and, it seems, there is an intention that we will not know that. Why only those three and not the other two independent members of the A&R Committee? Here it should be noted that these three form a quorum for a legally constituted meeting of the A&R Committee. Further, because it is a quorum, this triad can not only instruct the External Auditor but also appoint him/her themselves. Can the other two independent members of the A&R Committee not be ‘trusted’? Who are the three independent members of the A&R Committee, it is not obvious from searching the WCC Website.

    1. Jim I found this in council meeting minutes from last year
      5.3 Audit and Risk Committee Independent Member Appointment

      The Warrnambool City Council Audit & Risk Committee is established pursuant to Section 139 of the Local Government Act 1989 and is an advisory committee to Council.

      The Committee has its own Charter which includes the Terms of Reference. In accordance with the Charter and reflecting best practice the Committee has five members of which three are independent members and two are current Councillors.

      The tenure of independent member, Mr Rod Coutts will expire on 31 December 2018 and Mr Coutts is not seeking an extension of tenure. Ms Narelle McLean has resigned from the Committee due to a conflict of interest with her firm being appointment as Council’s external auditor on behalf of the Victorian Auditor General’s Office. Council is therefore seeking to appoint two new independent members to the Audit & Risk Committee.

      Council supported the following recommendations (5-0):

      1. That Ms Karyn Cook be appointed to the independent member vacancy on Council’s Audit & Risk Committee from 6 November 2018 to 5 November 2022.

      2. That Mr Dennis Farley be appointed to the independent member vacancy on Council’s Audit & Risk Committee from 6 November 2018 to 5 November 2022.

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