Council Welcomes Auditor General’s Findings on LIVING CITY
19 September 2019
The Tasmanian Auditor-General has today released the long-awaited report on his examination of the governance and procurement of goods and services by Devonport City Council in relation to its LIVING CITY project.
“There has been significant public interest in LIVING CITY and Council welcomes the findings of the Auditor-General’s independent review following what has been an extensive 18-month examination of the project dating back to 2013” Mayor Annette Rockliff said.
The Report confirms that the Council (with one exception relating to reporting of one contract in Council’s 2015 Annual Report) had complied with all of its statutory reporting requirements under the Local Government Act 1993 and Regulations.
The Report acknowledges that prior to entering into its contract with P+I Group, Council had considered issues around the commerciality of the agreement, however it is identified this could have been better documented.
“Council accepts there is a need to improve its documenting of any value or reasonableness assessment in the future when a contract is entered into based on the extenuating circumstances provision of the Local Government Act” Mayor Rockliff said.
The Auditor-General’s Report concluded the approach taken by Council regarding the sale of land on the waterfront for the hotel development to Fairbrother Pty Ltd, met all legislative requirements and expectations. “With construction about to commence in the Waterfront Precinct, it is reassuring that Council can move forward with the confidence that due process was followed” Mayor Rockliff said.
The Report highlights the extensive cost control and program reporting measures which Council applied throughout the construction of Stage 1 of LIVING CITY. “In part, it was these measures which contributed to the project being completed around $1 million under budget” Mayor Rockliff said.
A thorough examination of the lease arrangements relating to Providore Place was considered as part of the Auditor-General’s review. The Report found there were some short comings in relation to the development of the original lease agreement between Council and Providore Place (Devonport) Pty Ltd.
“Although at the time of entering into the lease there was a desire by Council and the Lessee for a non-traditional cooperative shared arrangement, this has proven to be ineffectual and has created a significant amount of angst between the parties and I acknowledge this has reflected badly on Council within parts of the community” Mayor Rockliff said.
“I accept the findings in the Report that Council did not fully meet good governance expectations in relation to the Providore Place lease, and I commit to ensuring the recommendations provided by the Auditor-General are fully implemented”.
The Report contains eight (8) recommendations in total. Of these, three (3) are for the Government to consider relating to potential changes for inclusion in the Local Government Act with the other five (5) specifically for Devonport City Council’s consideration. “I am committed to seeing all recommendations fully implemented” Mayor Rockliff said.
Council appreciates the detailed review the Auditor-General has undertaken of the LIVING CITY project. “Whilst there are certain aspects that could have been better managed, particularly relating to the Providore Place lease, the Report acknowledges that Council in the main met its statutory and reporting obligations under the Local Government Act” Mayor Rockliff said.
“I hope now the thorough independent examination by the Auditor-General of the LIVING CITY project has been completed, and the Report publicly released, we can all move on and look to a bright and positive future for our City”.