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Vic: Ombudsman report into council bribery claims close

04 Mar 2009 7:36 PM

MELBOURNE, March 4 AAP - A Victorian Ombudsman's "explosive" report into alleged bribery, intimidation and misuse of funds at a Melbourne suburban council is expected to be released within weeks.

Ombudsman George Brouwer is investigating allegations of dodgy dealings at the ALP-dominated western suburbs council.

Nationals MP Jeanette Powell, who called for the probe eight months ago, said she had been advised by the Ombudsman's office that the report was in its final stages and would be released shortly.

She expects the findings to be explosive and called on the government to bring the Labor council to account "fairly and without discrimination".

"The Local Government Act does have teeth but the government is loath, it seems, to investigate certain councils," Ms Powell told AAP.

She said the act allowed charges to be laid against councillors but the government had sat on its hands.

"It's a deterrent for other councils that act inappropriately ... to say that councils are not above the law."

The inquiry was launched after an extraordinary attack in parliament by Labor MP George Seitz, who accused the council of intimidating local residents and called for councillors to be sacked.

It followed a preselection spat in Premier John Brumby's dominant right faction over the ALP candidate for the Kororoit byelection.

Brimbank councillor Natalie Suleyman lost preselection to Darebin councillor Marlene Kairouz.

Mr Seitz has accused Cr Suleyman and her backers of trying to avenge the snub in her community by behaving like the "Robert Mugabe of Brimbank".