A BIZARRE scene played out just before the Perth council meeting this week when councillors were asked to sign a statutory declaration promising they hadn’t spoken to a journalist about CEO Martin Mileham’s contract.
Mr Mileham’s probation period is coming to an end and there’s internal disagreement over the council’s decision not to get an independent audit of his performance before committing to the remainder of his five-year contract; it’s a decision that’s worth about $2 million a year once wages and perks are taken into consideration.
Instead the decision was made by the three-member CEO Performance Review Committee of councillor Janet Davidson (chair), lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi and her deputy James Limnios.
The meeting was held behind closed doors and the minutes are unclear as to what happened, but it was adjourned overnight because Cr Limnios hadn’t been able to interview Mr Mileham beforehand.
When the meeting reconvened, he voted against signing off on the CEO’s probation, while Ms Scaffidi and Cr Davidson were ready to commit to him for the next 4.5 years.
News about the lack of an independent audit was apparently leaked to journalist Angela Pownall from the West Australian, who fired through a question asking whether proper process was being followed.
But this irked Scaffidi ally Judy McEvoy, who handed out stat decs to her colleagues in the committee room just before they headed into the council meeting.
The prepared forms read: “I did not (personally) background or make contact or direct anyone to contact Angela Pownall or any other journalist at The West Australian regarding the City of Perth’s CEO’s probation or the CEO’s performance review committee matters”.
Councillors Limnios and Jemma Green refused to sign.
“I have never seen anything like it before,” Cr Limnios said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s scare tactics and nothing more than that.”
After a confidential discussion the majority of councillors gave the CEO a satisfactory mark on his review period, with councillors Green, Limnios and Reece Harley dissenting.
The Voice understands that was over concerns about the process rather than disapproval of the CEO.
by DAVID BELL