Quietly redirected

THE director clear-out at Perth City Council will now happen behind closed doors at the behest of commissioners.

The city’s currently advertising for four “general managers” to replace five outgoing directors, and commissioners standing in for elected councillors have decided that the hiring and firing process should not take place at a public meeting.

At the February 26 council meeting, Commissioner Andrew Hammond moved an item of “urgent business” that the city remove the “senior employee” designation from all directors and the couple of senior management positions that it had previously applied to.

That will mean if any director or senior manager is hired or dismissed it wouldn’t need a vote of councillors, as had previously been necessary under the Local Government Act.

Commr Hammond said at the time: “We are two directors down at the moment, and we really don’t want to put any obstacles in the way.

“It’s my personal view, and certainly as a previous CEO [of Rockingham] that the appointment of all staff is the responsibility of the CEO.”

Commr Gaye McMath chaired the meeting and accepted the item as urgent.

Transparency

“I think that it’s very important that we do not delay with any deliberation on staff matters generally, and certainly not delay on any … staff matters coming forward to a later meeting.”

Cr Reece Harley, suspended along with the rest of the council, said last week he was disappointed in the lack of transparency about the restructure of directors. He wants to know how many staff were made redundant and how much it cost.

There was confusion last week over who had actually resigned, with The West reporting “all five” directors had gone, but two were still listed on the city’s website.

CEO Murray Jorgensen said: “No directors were dismissed, all directors resigned at their own discretion.” Two directors are fulfilling their roles until their regular finishing dates.

“To be clear, this is about replacing the vacant executive roles that have arisen over the past 12 months and taking the opportunity at the same time to review and improve the way we do things here at the city.

“In doing so I have decided to move from five portfolios to four and better align our services for the betterment of all our stakeholders. This will also produce an operating cost saving.

The Voice asked about the directors’ severance payments, but Mr Jorgansen said: “To respect the privacy of individual employees, the city will not address inquiries of this nature”.

Senior employees are also eligible for more generous severance packages, but Mr Jorgensen said the February 26 notice of motion “did not affect outgoing director’s claim to benefits”.

by DAVID BELL

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