editors letterIT may be that the three new general managers, appointed to Bass Coast Shire last week, are the best people for the job.
We certainly hope that they are.
But the fact that two of the shire’s four general managers were senior employees under relatively new shire CEO Paul Buckley, at Latrobe City, is worth consideration.
Here’s what the communique from the shire said last week, in part:
General Manager of Sustainable Development and Growth, Allison Jones: “She has spent the past nine years at the City of Latrobe…”
General Manager Healthy Communities, David Elder: “…before joining the City of Latrobe approximately six years ago…”
General Manager Governance and Organisation Development, Mark Brady: “He has spent the past five years at the City of Port Phillip…”
They join general manager infrastructure, Felicity Sist, as the four main officers of the council, under Mr Buckley.
Apparently the Council was also concerned to ensure the independence of the recruitment process by insisting on an extra layer of scrutiny, once it was aware that several Latrobe City managers were applying.
That they had to ask the question at all should have sounded alarm bells.
To paraphrase an old legal saying ‘not only must justice be done with the propriety of senior appointments; it must also be seen to be done’ and this should have ruled out the eligibility of Mr Buckley’s colleagues, no matter how well qualified they were.
This should have been the case even if it were not for the internal trouble that has plagued Latrobe City in recent times, enough for the Minister for Local Government, Tim Bull, to appoint an independent monitor to that council in August this year.
The officer will remain in place, according to Minister Bull, until he is “satisfied that appropriate governance processes and policies are in place”.
The issues associated with the appointment of an independent monitor have been on-going, it seems, prompting Mr Buckley to make comment in the Latrobe Valley Express last month about the outcome of an unfair dismissal case dating back to his time with the council.
It would be better if he turned his attention exclusively to Bass Coast, regardless of what is now happening at Latrobe.
The Bass Coast Shire Council has apparently satisfied itself that these are the best possible appointments for its senior management roles and the community will simply have to accept that is the case and look forward to better services, greater efficiency, more transparency and less waste.