23 MARCH 2011
REVIEW OF EUROBODALLA
SHIRE COUNCIL MUST BE THOROUGH AND CONVINCING
From a wide variety of
disappointing experiences, ERA supporters are drawn together by
one conclusion; something must be done about Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Even the distant Minister for Local Government reluctantly agrees.
So does our State Member, most Councillors and more than a few Council
BUT WHAT MUST BE DONE?
Causes of dissatisfaction
must be identified before they can be resolved. We all have opinions
and distrust is evident. Public confidence will not be restored
without an objective review conducted by an independent, competent
TOO MANY COMPLAINTS ‘spill
over’ from Council’s administration:-
. Council’s staff
have complex laws and policies to administer. Decisions they must
make and the advice they give can be expected to sometimes be unwelcome,
argued and challenged. Occasionally they will be wrong [we are all
. Sound management would
ensure staff are well trained, that decisions are explained and
that disputed decisions are objectively reviewed. Erroneous decisions
or advice should be rectified promptly and safeguards adopted to
avoid repetition. Where complaints stem from deficiencies or inconsistencies
in Council decisions or policies, managers have a responsibility
to draw these to the attention of Councillors, with recommendations.
. So, are our managers
managing? Can we be sure they are suitably qualified and capable
of performing at the level required to meet the modern needs of
a complex, progressive local government authority? This includes
the capacity to lead, motivate, train and develop supporting staff
to provide necessary services at a consistently high level.
. There are aspersions
that staff morale is low, that many staff are not utilised gainfully,
that management has not won respect and that the community might
expect higher performing candidates for the salaries on offer.
. Until action is taken
to dispel or rectify these impressions it is unlikely that confidence
and pride will be restored.
. It is the responsibility
of Councillors to arrange for the delivery of services to be reviewed
periodically. The level of deterioration now requires independent,
RESIDENTS CONTINUE TO
VOICE DISAPPOINTMENT, despite the responsibility of Councillors
to represent their interests:-
. Far too many residents
describe disappointing or unfair experiences and dissatisfaction
with the lack of transparency in some decisions. Many more residents
remain dissatisfied but are be unable or unwilling to express their
views to ERA.
. Councillors are elected
to represent residents’ interests and to facilitate communication
between the community and Council. A small percentage of residents
might never be mollified. But many are turning to ERA with a widespread
view that Councillors lack authority to influence better outcomes.
. Too frequently, Councillors
appear to make or condone ill-informed decisions, with deceptive
secrecy that avoids community engagement or scrutiny.
. As a group Councillors
appear too uncoordinated to establish priorities and targets for
the Shire’s administration, or [as Section 232 of the Local
Government Act requires] direct and control the affairs of Council,
participate in optimum allocation of Council’s resources for
the benefit of the area, play a key role in creating and reviewing
policies, review the performance of Council and its delivery of
. Councillors and ratepayers
have much to benefit from a thorough review of Council’s operation
that will identify scope, and provide guidance, for improved practices.
ALL OF US WANT FORWARD
LOOKING, EFFICIENT AND RESPONSIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
This can only be achieved
with sound leadership, astute Councillors and capable management.
An external review should assist Councillors to assert the priorities
and performance required from Council’s administration. A
review of administration and staffing is also clearly needed. But
it can only be conducted, sensibly, after the primary review indicates
where Council needs to concentrate, or perhaps reduce, its resources.
WHAT IS COUNCIL DOING?
Despite the decision
of Council on 30 March 2010 to identify and agree efficiency and
effectiveness review options, the Mayor, Councillors and General
Manager have failed to initiate the independent, external review
that is so clearly required. Dysfunction and disarray in Council
is highlighted by the Recision Motion put by Clrs. Morton, Pollock
and Dance to that previously carried for an externally conducted
inquiry. Council’s acceptance of this Motion nonetheless obliges
it to proceed with planning for the review. Allowing a year of delay
and diversion means Councillors have yet to demonstrate the leadership,
the authority and the genuine desire to make improvements.
WHERE IS ERA?
ERA rejects the idea
that the General Manager should control an inquiry into his own
organisation. ERA also rejects, as a further waste of money, engagement
of Blackadder to consult on staffing and organisational matters
before the overall scope of Council activities has been reviewed
or accepted by the community. ERA fears ill-conceived piecemeal
reviews conducted by the General Manager and Local Government "Specialists"
will rubber stamp existing practices and cultures at considerable
cost with no benefit. ERA insists investigations and reports should
be conducted by an independent, hard-nosed business consultant who
will focus on tangible results rather than boxes ticked.
ERA continues to communicate
these views to the Mayor and Councillors.