Perth council overhaul

HUGE overhauls are underway at the City of Perth as commissioners clean up the messy aftermath of a long-running civil war.

Commissioner Andrew Hammond tabled a raft of motions at the last meeting, saying “these motions are very pivotal to our role as commissioners in being charged with restoring the City of Perth to good governance”.

The changes include overhauling the way councillors and senior staff communicate, after the relationship had become strained.

Previously all communication was funnelled through the CEO, but under Mr Hammond’s motion commissioners—and councillors when they’re unsuspended—will have regular contact with the city’s senior directors in the “Executive Leadership Group”.

Mr Hammond said at the meeting “we’re all aware there has been issues in the past related to communication. As a group we have to move on from that”.

He’s also proposed getting a consultant to do an independent review of problematic areas, including the way the Executive Leadership Group handled concerns raised in last year’s internal survey, which found low morale among staff.

Bullying

The report found “the culture of the City has deteriorated, with trust, staff morale and positive engagement decreasing across the organisation”.

The consultants will also look at the city’s health and safety situation.

Some staff in the survey described the work culture as “toxic”, and council CEO Martin Mileham went on stress leave, claiming “bullying” of staff by councillors via “aggressive, rude or repetitive” communications.

Chair commissioner Eric Lumsden was not at the meeting, but sent a statement strongly supporting the motions, and Ms McMath said they would help to “leave a firm foundation when the role of the commissioners finishes”.

The commissioners also voted to review a slew of policies relating to elected member privileges.

Councillors’ $13,360 yearly allowance for clothes, shoes and haircuts was lowered to $3000 last year, but some councillors—Reece Harley, Steve Hasluck and Jemma Green—wanted to scrap the allowance altogether.

The allowance will now be reviewed, along with councillors’ interstate and overseas trips and their dining room privileges (the swanky dining room on the 10th floor of Council House has been closed pending this review).

Mr Hammond said “we’ve got to discuss what a fair and reasonable expense is in the context of a contemporary local government, and also obviously in the context of what the local community views as being acceptable,” so they’ll put it out for public comment.

by DAVID BELL

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