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BULLETIN 28 OCTOBER 2010

PETITION TO MINISTER


With the support of over 2,000 community signatories, we have a Petition in support of ERA’s submission to the Minister for an Inquiry into the Eurobodalla Shire Council. An essential element of this review will be a request to finance an independent externally conducted audit of all aspects of Council operations – embracing the Mayor, Councillors, General Manager and Senior Staff.

The present controversy surrounding the General Manager’s large pay increase is symptomatic of wide-ranging concerns we have of Council’s management processes. In this case our complaint is not just centred on the actual pay rise – it is the secrecy, lack of transparency, obfuscation, and absence of straightforward information concerning the whole affair.

News of the G.M’s salary and bonus annual leave entitlements were released on or about 28 September when, in fact, the actual Review Committee met and decided the matter on 21 June. The Review Committee comprised the Mayor, Clrs. Vardon and Dance plus “an independent facilitator” from the Local Government Shires Association, Management Solutions Division.

For a start, our question as to who the independent facilitator was, has been repeatedly brushed aside at several levels. All we ask for is a name, to be sure it was not Mr. Bruce Miller, who happens to be the President of the Shires Association. The same Mr. Miller has ignored emails and phone calls. He gave a gratuitous testimonial on ABC Radio after announcement of the pay rise saying that G.M. Anderson deserved the pay bonuses because he is one of the most highly regarded and competent General Managers within Local Government. If Mr. Miller was not privy to the Performance Indicators discussed at the Confidential Committee Meeting, how could he know that the G.M. pay rise was justified? When we asked the Local Government and Shires Association for information, we were told “LGSA represents the Council, we cannot give you any information.” So get that. Ratepayers fund the Council, who use ratepayer money to pay large (secret?) subscriptions to the LGSA, who refuse to simply give the name of one of their representatives at a Eurobodalla Committee Meeting. How independent can this representative be?

In the second instance, we asked for a copy of the Performance Indicators which were the basis for assessing Mr. Anderson’s management performance. We simply asked for the pro forma sheet, which is said to contain 50 points for appraisal – we did not ask for any information or the confidential assessment ratings/comments which prompted the Committee’s decision. Why would Council need to refuse to supply this information? It is typical of an arrogant contempt for community consultation and their policy of autocratic control. It is also lamentable that we are compromised into airing these sorts of matters, when open communication would make it unnecessary.

Councillor Vardon is proposing even more Performance Indicators next year, to be added to the present list of 50. More is better? The measurement of a Chief Executive’s performance is difficult, but most large organizations manage with a half dozen or so carefully chosen criteria.

A BIG thank you to all those who made the effort to get signed Petitions back to us.

To those many tradespeople and contractors who would not sign for fear of Council retribution, the people who were worried about their D.A’s, the Council employees terrified for their jobs, the local business owners who did not want to upset certain Councillors – you are not alone, but if we work together we CAN make a difference.

With your support we WILL get openness and transparency into the management of this Council and a return to a service-oriented culture.

 

Work with us towards a better local government in our beautiful shire!