Councillors behaving badly Part One - depaNews December 2009


Councillors behaving badly

In September we told the story in depaNews about the poor old blokes at Parramatta Council lumbering around as if the 1993 Local Government Act didn't exist: carrying resolutions about staffing and the performance of staff when that is clearly the role of the General Manager. And has been since the introduction of the 1993 Act: a piece of legislation which is now more than a decade and a half old but we strangely still describe as the "new" Act.

In November we passed on the inspirational news that Lord Mayor Paul Garrard (pictured above) had forbidden managers from dressing casually on mufti day in case he wanted to summon them to his opulent and Regal Mayoral Chambers and they needed to be appropriately dressed to show their respect. Down on your knees, commoners!

The two industrial disputes that depa filed (which had involved bans being placed on certain activities by members) were discontinued in the Industrial Relations Commission on 17 December. Steps had been taken by management to protect the integrity of the planning system without the dabbling of dilettantes and amateurs, councillors were going to receive training about their responsibilities under the Local Government Act and everything was going to be very post-1993.

But not so fast. At a meeting of the Council on 14 December the general manager had sat meekly while the Council carried a resolution delegating to the Lord Mayor that he "retain and instruct" an investigator to review a recent tendering process. This is the same General Manager who sat meekly by while the Council had earlier carried two inappropriate (and incorrect) resolutions about the quality of development control being provided by the Council .

If the meek really are to inherit the earth, then giant slabs of it will be heading towards Parramatta "CEO", Dr Peter Brady.

We have written to the General Manager about this. Sometimes general managers need to be a bit tough with their councillors, telling them what the law actually says about who is responsible for managing staff and that the Local Government Act makes it abundantly clear that it is not the Council, it is the General Manager.

Some general managers are quite prepared to do so. Parramatta general manager, or CEO as he likes to be known, Dr Peter Brady is pictured below driving past the Industrial Relations Commission at the time we were telling the Commission that Dr Brady told us that both he and the councillors understood their roles and the disputes were concluded.

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