Council crackdown

PERTH city council CEO Martin Mileham’s decision to take indefinite sick leave  comes just days after he attempted to crack down on councillors speaking to city staff.

In report at last Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting, he’d suggested bringing the city’s policies in line with the Local Government Act so any communications would have to go through his office.

Mr Mileham wrote that he had a legal requirement under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide a safe workplace for employees. He was also required to adopt measures to prevent staff being bullied, including shielding them from  “aggressive, rude or repetitive” communications.

“The CEO—not the council or any individual elected member—has the responsibility and power in respect of administration matters, including the day-to-day management of the city’s operations,” he wrote after receiving legal advice on the issue.

The city’s current policy allows councillors to talk to staff down to a manager’s level, which is inconsistent with the Act.

Mr Mileham says this means the policy exceeds its “lawful powers” and it should be revoked at the earliest opportunity. Even before then it should be ignored as “invalid and unenforceable”.

When the item came up, Cr Reece Harley moved to have the issue referred back to the city’s Finance and Administration Committee. The only vote against that was lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi who wanted it dealt with on the night.

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