KEEP state government interference out of the local domain, Vincent councillor Ron Alexander says.
Cr Alexander has extensive experience in the state public sector having been director general of the WA department of sport and recreation for 18 years from 1999 to 2017. In 2019 he was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2019 for “for significant service to sport and recreation, and to public administration”.
But he wants the state to stay out of local business, and told the February 8 council meeting he was concerned about state government plans to force councils bring in a state-approved “independent person” to help them choose a CEO.
The proposal stemmed from the City of Perth inquiry where commissioner Tony Powers found that having just three councillors select a CEO candidate “contributed to a range of dysfunctional outcomes” (“Power: Reform CEO selection,” Voice, August 15 2020).
Mr Power recommended every council should have to bring in a recruitment expert appointed by the state government to “raise any probity concerns”.
Under the latest version of the proposal the state’s department of local government would establish a list of “approved panel members” that councils could choose from, to watch over them while they pick a CEO.
Hiring a CEO is one of the biggest decisions a council makes, as it’s the main staffer they deal with and the CEO has power to hire all other council staff.
Cr Alexander said “it just makes me uncomfortable when I see that a member of the [department of local government] needs to be on the CEO selection panel.
“I won’t make any derogatory comments about state government appointments, but I wouldn’t actually like to see that sort of interference come into local government.”
Cr Ross Ioppolo joined Cr Alexander in voting against the state’s reforms plans, but the majority of Vincent councillors endorsed the proposal.
The Local Government Elected Members Association, a startup group that sprang from councillors dissatisfied with increasing state government power creep, said having a state-approved member on the election panel was one of many ways the reforms were “disempowering” councillors.
Submissions on the state’s changes are due by February 25.
by DAVID BELL