'Broken' Melbourne council faces sack

Marnie Banger

A council deemed "broken" by years of bitter feuds is set to become Victoria's second local government to be sacked within two months.

The Andrews government has moved to dump Whittlesea Council in Melbourne's outer north, after a monitor found its governance had "irretrievably collapsed".

The monitor, Yehudi Blacher, was appointed in December, days after the council sacked former Victoria Police commissioner Simon Overland as its chief executive.

He had been the council's fifth chief executive in five years.

In his report to government published on Tuesday, Mr Blacher said the council is "broken by years of internal division, factionalism, personality conflicts and bitter legacies of perceived betrayals".

"The poisons in council run so deep that councillors from both sides of the divide see little prospect of ever bridging their differences," he wrote.

"Council governance has irretrievably collapsed."

The council has also spent $500,000 over two years on legal disputes stemming from internal bickering, with the fees set to rise.

"The fact that some councillors are prepared to spend these funds on personal and governance disputes rather than on much needed services to the community is unacceptable," Mr Blacher said.

The monitor has made two referrals based on his investigations, one to the chief municipal inspector and the other to the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission.

Victorian Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek said Victorians deserve the highest standards of goverance from their councils.

"Unfortunately, the monitor has found that this particular council has fallen well short of those high standards," he told reporters.

Legislation for the council's sacking was introduced to state parliament on Tuesday.

An interim administrator will be appointed to ensure the functions of the council continue once it is dismissed, with administrators set to remain in place until 2024.

Whittlesea Council has been contacted for comment.

The Municipal Association of Victoria said the decision was a chance for the council to start rebuilding trust with the community.

"The behaviours identified by the monitor at Whittlesea are not representative of our local government sector," association president Cr Coral Ross said in a statement.

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the coalition would support the sacking.

Influential upper house crossbencher, the Reason Party's Fiona Patten, said the government should be looking at other options rather than showing the entire council the door.

"Again it seems that we will be using a hammer to crack a walnut," she told reporters.

The sacking comes less than a month after the state government dumped the scandal-plagued Casey council in Melbourne's southeast, where a monitor had found "significant governance failures".

IBAC has also been investigating allegations of corrupt conduct involving councillors and property developers in the City of Casey.