Councillor suspended from the City of Greater Shepparton21 Aug 2012
Councillor Milvan Muto from Greater Shepparton City Council was today ordered by VCAT to take a mandatory leave of absence (suspended) from his office of Councillor.
Following an investigation by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (the Inspectorate) earlier this year, Councillor Milvan Muto is alleged to have engaged in gross misconduct with a hearing scheduled before VCAT on Monday 27 August 2012 seeking this determination.
Earlier this month, Victoria Police executed a search warrant at the private residence of Councillor Muto, following a police investigation into the publishing or communicating of recordings of private conversations. Councillor Muto was arrested and subsequently charged with:
- Blackmail under the Crimes Act,
- two offences under the Surveillance Devices Act,
- Possession of a handgun under the Firearms Act, and
- Possession of a drug of dependence under the Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act.
Councillor Muto is currently on bail with conditions not to threaten witnesses in respect to the criminal matters. After his release on bail conditions, Councillor Muto allegedly breached those bail conditions and was subsequently arrested and charged with an additional offence under the Surveillance Devices Act.
The offences of Blackmail relate directly to the Gross Misconduct hearing scheduled for VCAT on 27 August 2012, where the application for disqualification of Councillor Muto under the Local Government Act 1989(the Act) will be heard.
Based on recent events, the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (the Inspectorate) provided advice to the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Community Development who then applied to VCAT under section 29 of the Act for an order to require Councillor Muto to take a mandatory leave of absence (suspension) from the office of councillor at the Greater Shepparton City Council until the criminal charge of Blackmail is determined.
The application for suspension was heard on 21 August 2012 with VCAT making a binding order that Councillor Muto takes a mandatory leave of absence (suspension) from his office as Councillor with Greater Shepparton City Council until the criminal charge of Blackmail is determined. The order takes effect immediately.
Residents and ratepayers of Greater Shepparton City will continue to be represented by the remaining six elected councillors.
The position of the State and the Inspectorate is that the right to take part in public office is not absolute and is subject to reasonable limitations. The State recognises there are standards required of people who hold public office and that the community is entitled to be represented by people who are capable of performing their duty as councillors and act in a manner appropriate for community leader.
Chief Municipal Inspector