Another GM bites the dust after a dustup with the mayor

Newcastle’s general manager Phil Pearce has resigned, after eighteen months (but more importantly only four months after the September elections) and according to the Herald on 22 January, after “clashes with the lord mayor Jeff McCloy”. Having lampooned and lambasted the council and its staff and how they do things in election campaigning, new councillors then find out it’s not as easy as they thought.  Ignorance really is bliss.

Incoming councillors and mayors often have little idea about how local government works and that puts the general manager in the awkward and vulnerable position of keeping them away from the GM’s own responsibilities and the staff, and having to try to educate them about their obligations under the Local Government Act and to understand that sometimes the things that seemed capable of being done can’t be done once people understand how things really work. There are laws and obligations.

Camden was our December example of a general manager removed with nothing more than 38 weeks pay and no explanation and general managers are no different to other employees and should be able to expect fair treatment at work and procedural fairness in termination.

The GM is the most vulnerable employee because the GM is the only employee employed by the Council and the only employee directly accountable to the Council. This vulnerability and the need for proper protection of general managers (in what will inevitably be bigger and better resourced councils) are being dealt with by a number of the reviews currently investigating local government. In particular, the Standard Contracts for GM’s Working Party, the Local Government Acts Review and the Independent Review Panel. And it will be a hard issue for the 2036 flunkies to deal with as well as the Minister’s office.

depa has published a Position Paper on the employment of general managers to be fed into this process. It’s got all the history and the history will surprise many. We had our crack research people going through the archives for days. Here's a link.

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