'Freeloading spongers' in council

MIKE YARDLEY
Last updated 08:48 29/10/2013
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Mike Yardley

Let's party, but responsibly Too many miscarriages of justice over sex allegations Yardley: Investment welcome, but at what cost? Late-night passengers delayed at customs Rates rises unavoidable and asset sales Hothouse of youthful zeal bodes well for rebuild Mike Yardley: Rail out but email in Town Hall rebuild on shaky ground East basks in the hot political spotlight Naughty fire-lovers may burn in spartan hell

OPINION: Mayor Lianne Dalziel has hit the ground running with a wave of pleasingly populist but entirely sound decisions.

Appointing Vicki Buck her deputy and declaring war on cavalier council expenditure strike the right notes.

Perhaps Dalziel, who was raised a Catholic, has been channelling the refreshing frugality of Pope Francis, who wants the Vatican to behave like a poor church and his priests to be stripped of all princely pretences. (Exhibit A, the defrocked Bishop of Limburg.)

I'm sure most people aren't terribly shocked by the city council credit card spending revelations, exposed in The Press on Saturday.

But I'm still incensed. Deeply incensed that ratepayers are being rogered by faceless bureaucrats who fritter away public money on personal fripperies and workmate fancies, whether it be skinny soy lattes, celebratory gifts for staff giving birth, the obligatory booze-up that lubricates the launch of a council initiative, and the $1000 bar tabs for staff quiz nights. (As an aside, why are so many council shindigs held at the Elevate Bar?)

It's all very well to cover the hospitality tab for visiting dignitaries like the Adelaide mayor, but replenishing the staff lolly jar on the public tit? Slap me now.

Issuing 450 senior council staff with purchasing credit cards was a lavish invitation for trouble. But what about the noddies in charge of monitoring? Why were they asleep at the wheel as the spending breaches ran riot? Were they too busy organising their own staff piss-up?

Like gannets in a gut truck, hundreds of coffees have been improperly purchased. That is not just mass misuse, but theft. The recidivist abusers should be fired. (Without a farewell gift, please.)

The real damage from this P-card binge is reputational. Because the only conclusion to be drawn is that the council's senior ranks are racked by freeloading spongers who have little regard for the public purse. They have spectacularly driven another stake through the heart of trust in council.

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- The Press

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