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Port Phillip ratepayers furious over footing a councillor’s $17,500 childcare bill

Tom Elliott
Article image for Port Phillip ratepayers furious over footing a councillor’s $17,500 childcare bill

Image: Google Maps

City of Port Phillip ratepayers are furious after footing a bill of over $17,500 for one councillor’s childcare costs.

Councillor Ogy Simic received a total of $17,582 under the council’s childcare allowance between July 2017 and June 2019.

Councillor Andrew Bond, has taken aim at Cr Simic, saying it’s not only ratepayers who are outraged.

“There’s a lot of councillors upset by this too,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

Cr Bond said the childcare costs incurred by Cr Simic are excessive.

“The Local Government Act says that councillors are entitled to reimbursement of reasonable expenses, and I don’t think there’s too many people out there who would believe that claiming $17,500 in one year for childcare would meet the test of reasonable expenses!,” he said.

“The childcare rebate was introduced to allow councillors with children to attend unplanned meetings and events, unforeseen circumstances where they had to make arrangements to look after their children to enable them to attend that meeting or event.

“The purpose of this allowance isn’t to provide a full time, rate-payer funded babysitter for councillors.”

A group of councillors, including Cr Bond, put forward a proposal at last night’s council meeting, calling for a review of current allowances and the introduction of caps on allowances if necessary.

The proposal was defeated, with five councillors voting against it and just three voting for the proposal.

Cr Simic defended his use of taxpayer funded childcare.

“When you break that down it’s about $200 a week on average,’ he said.

“That definitely doesn’t cover all of the activity that councillors do.

“Being a councillor is not like a normal job … it’s an honorary position. Councillors don’t receive a huge amount of money for the time they spend working as councillors, either; it’s $32,000 annually.

“The reality is I left full time work in order to be on council and to represent my community properly.

“I believe in civic engagement and civic representation. I believe that every person should be able to represent their community on council, irrespective of their circumstances.”

In a statement, Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross said 94 per cent of the costs incurred were from the use of a private babysitter.

“The Victorian Government’s policy statement on local government allowances does include childcare because it enhances the diversity of representation and maximises the opportunity of elected councillors to contribute,” the statement read.

Press PLAY below to hear what Cr Andrew Bond had to say.

Press PLAY below to hear Cr Ogy Simic on 3AW Drive.

Tom Elliott