Two former Warrnambool mayors have called for the independent investigation into the sacking of city council chief executive officer Peter Schneider two years ago to be finalised.
In a statement co-signed by former mayors Tony Herbert and Robert Anderson, along with former councillor Peter Sycopoulis, the trio is demanding answers.
They say the investigation has been completed. But last week The Standard reported the inspectorate said it was "progressing".
The inquiry was sparked after Mr Schneider was sacked on July 13, 2020 in a contentious 4-3 vote of councillors
But on June 11 last year, Supreme Court Justice Michael McDonald found the vote was invalid.
Justice McDonald said the decision to terminate was made in breach of rules of natural justice. He quashed the decision and found Mr Schneider was allowed to resume his position, which he did.
The councillors terminated Mr Schneider under clause 14.1 of his contract which was a right to terminate without a reason, but the council had to pay out 12 months' remuneration.
The matter was referred to the inspectorate by Mr Herbert after former councillors Mike Neoh, Kylie Gaston, Sue Cassidy and David Owen sought legal advice before voting to oust Mr Schneider.
The statement from Mr Herbert, Mr Anderson and Mr Sycopoulis provided to The Standard said the Local Government Inspectorate had "maintained contact with all parties associated with the inspectorate inquiry as to whether or not there may have been possible actionable breaches of the Local Government Act by the four councillors who voted to have Mr Schneider dismissed as the CEO of WCC".
The statement continued: "As a result of the Supreme Court action taken by Mr Schneider against the council in October 2020, Supreme Court Justice McDonald made a determination that Mr Schneider be reinstated to his former position as CEO."
The statement pointed out that five previous performance reviews of Mr Schneider provided unanimous support for him in meeting his key indicators as set down by the councillors.
"In addition, the four councillors who voted to dismiss the CEO appeared to not take too seriously the significant financial ramifications for the council (ratepayers) in paying out the dismissed CEO and then being ordered to "foot the bill" for their own legal costs plus those of Mr Schneider," Former mayors Herbert, Anderson and ex councillor Sycopoulis said.
"The financial implications for ratepayers were staggering.
"It is our belief that one of the highest and most serious considerations of a councillor or politician must be the respectful care of ratepayers' and taxpayers' dollars.
"The Local Government Inspectorate have apparently now completed their independent investigations of the actions taken by the four councillors involved.
"It is our understanding of the legal process required by the Local Government Inspectorate to report fully the evidence and any recommendations that may be prepared by the Inspectorate, for independent review to be made by the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office.
They also expressed frustration the investigation was so lengthy.
"While it is frustrating that this inquiry process has taken such a long time, it must be respected that due process be followed to enable the correct course of justice to be taken," it said.
"Considering there is a state election (soon), we believe the Local Government Inspectorate has a duty to provide timely information, especially if a candidate standing in the election is currently under investigation."
Ms Gaston is Labor's candidate for the seat of South West Coast in November's state election.
Last week an inspectorate spokesman said there was no time frame for its comprehensive and ongoing investigation into the sacking.
"The investigation is still progressing," he said.
"We don't give a lot of updates until an investigation is completed."
The spokesman said the investigation involved a lot of elements and no further details would be provided.
"All investigations are different depending on the investigation itself, such as interviews and documents," he said.
"When it's completed I can give a run down on what has been involved. Some investigations take a couple of days and some take two or three years. That's the reality of it."
Last week Ms Gaston said it was totally appropriate to follow an investigative process when a complaint was made.
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