In a 200 page report released on Thursday, the Victorian Ombudsman, George Brouwer, painted a bleak picture of the dealings in the Brimbank Council.
After requests from the Opposition, as well as controversial ALP MP, George Seitz, the Ombudsman conducted a nine month investigation into Brimbank.
The findings are seriously damning not only for the Council and some of its current and past councillors, but for the Brumby government as well.
The feared backlash from these embarrassing revelations have prompted the Government to readily adopt all 30 of the recomendations put forward by Mr Brouwer.
The most serious political ramification is likely to lead to the prohibition of any acting councillors from being employed as electoral offices in MP’s offices.
The State Opposition has come hard on the Victorian Government with it’s Leader Ted Baillieu stating:
“This report describes the activities of the Brimbank Council, a cesspit of Labor mates, mates directly connected to the heart of this government and engaged in breaches of public trust, breaches of the Local Government Act, breaches of the Electoral Act, intimidation, bullying, political corruption and misuse of public funds.”
The report talks about influence exerted on the council by outside people naming amongst others Labor MP Theo Theophanous and his brother Andrew Theophanous.
Andrew Theophanous is the husband of former Deputy Mayor of Brimbank Kathryn Eriksson.
Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE) contacted Andrew Theophanous who claimed that he was an unpaid advisor to the then Mayor Sam David and to his wife but denied making any desicions on behalf of them and merely helping them with bureaucratic tasks.
Greek Cypriot former Mayor Cr Sam David refused to make any comments when contacted by NKEE.
The Ombudsman’s report is very critical of the role played by the so-called ruling faction. “The practice in the council since at least 2005, was for councillors to make arrangements between themselves as to which councillors would form a majority and for that group of councillors to uniformly vote as a block.
Although the composition of that group changed three times between the council elections, the practice did not.
The majority group is known locally as the ‘ruling faction’, a term that will be used in this report.
The ‘ruling faction’ at the time I conducted my investigation in 2008 was made up of Crs David (Mayor), Eriksson (Deputy Mayor), Abate, Capar, Suleyman and Zukalski,” reads an excerpt from Mr Brouwer’s report.
The Ombudsman found evidence to substantiate the existence of a “dysfunctional council”, “influence of unelected persons”, “conflict of interest”, “improper use of powers”, “bullying and intimidation”, “misuse of council funds and equipment”, “inappropriate release of information”, and “improper use of electoral information.”
It should be noted that some of the most damning findings concern the three times former Mayor of Brimbank Turkish Cypriot Natalie Suleyman and former councillor Ken Capar.
According to The Age report, well known lawyer George Defteros is representing the Suleyman family.