In Parliament

Adjournment - Port Phillip Council


Wednesday, 5 March 2020

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (17:32):

My adjournment this evening is for the Minister for Local Government, and the action I seek is for the Minister to ensure the investigation of alleged entitlement misuse at the City of Port Phillip council.

The council’s 2018–19 annual report shows that sitting Greens councillor Ogy Simic claimed a whopping $17,582 on childcare expenses. For context, the other eight councillors claimed a total of $6,655. When the enormous babysitting costs were first reported my community was rightly up in arms. Disappointingly, attempts by Liberal councillors Andrew Bond and Marcus Pearl to clean up the uncapped babysitting free-for-all were blocked by Simic and his fellow Greens councillors.

Recently a number of detailed documents itemising Cr Simic’s babysitting expenses were provided through freedom of information. These documents were initially blocked for release by the council. It smells a lot like council knows there is something seriously wrong here.

A superficial read of the documents is so concerning that it warrants investigation.

I intend to circulate a number of the documents to make them available to the chamber, including homemade, consecutively numbered invoices produced by an unnamed private babysitter that reportedly make up 94 per cent of Simic’s claims. Invoice 1, produced on 3 April 2018, includes 22 claims, 15 of which are dated after the invoice was produced. Invoice 8 shows that Cr Simic was reimbursed for private babysitting on two dates in March 2019.

I have also been provided with the sign-in reports from Port Phillip council’s Bubup Nairm Children’s Centre. These sign-ins show that on the same two dates he was paid private babysitting fees. Cr Simic’s child was actually signed into the council’s childcare centre.

These claims look rotten. And it is not the first time Cr Simic has been caught out for his dodgy dealings.

Last year Simic and his partner, Greens federal election candidate Steph Hodgins- May, were caught hiding material promoting their private business inside Greens election material. That is right—Simic was caught using his wife’s election candidacy to gain personal financial advantage.

This is also the same bloke that allowed one of his campaign team to put 30 pieces of silver on a Jewish councillor’s desk after a fellow Greens councillor was passed over for mayor—a disturbingly anti-Semitic act. Something is very crooked here and it warrants investigation.

Our community has no tolerance for dodgy councillors.

I look forward to the Minister’s response.