'Stop squabbling' or I'll sack you: Dept Premier to Council
THE Deputy Premier has warned she will sack the Fraser Coast council if it does not stop its "childish squabbling" and start putting its voters first.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad tabled a government report into the operations of the council that found it is currently functioning despite a "dysfunctional" relationship between the mayor and CEO.
The report found staff were not prepared to meet with a state government advisor in the council offices and many asked to be interviewed off-site.
"The advisor indicated that there are 'severe tensions' within council's executive management team," the report said.
THE ADVISOR'S REPORT BROKEN DOWN:
Distrust between councillors revealed in parliament
- Amongst the councillors, there appears to be a very high level of distrust, which is arguably affecting the effectiveness of council.
Work environment described as 'toxic, untrustworthy'
- The advisor's meetings with council staff have uncovered a work environment described as 'toxic' and possessing low morale.
'Dysfunctional' relationship between mayor, CEO in report
- The relationship between the CEO Lisa Desmond and mayor Chris Loft was the "single biggest issue the council continues to face," according to the findings in the advisor's report.
Council needs to take positive steps for better governance
- The CEO identified areas of concern for immediate action within council's operations and compliance with governance requirements.
COUNCIL MEETINGS: How council can improve meetings
- The advisor indicated that councillors were 'generally well behaved at meetings and adhered to procedures' however there was room for improvement.
Deputy premier brings council concerns to table in parliament
- Should the situation deteriorate to the point where further intervention is required under the Local Government Act 2009, either in the form of removal of a councillor or councillors, or the dissolution of the council, my message to the Fraser Coast Council is simple: this government is prepared to act.
But the report found despite dysfunction in the senior leadership, the council is still fulfilling its duties.
"In considering all the information available, the department is of the view that the council is currently functioning in a way that is allowing it to perform its responsibilities under the Local Government Act," the report read.
"However, the relationship between the Mayor and CEO is dysfunctional, which is of major concern given the critical importance of this relationship for the effective functioning of the council. There appears to be no evidence of a functioning relationship, with communication between the parties mostly limited to emails, and the mayor providing limited strategic direction or leadership to the chief executive officer."
The report said the Local Government Department had received more than 30 complaints about Fraser Coast councillors between December 2015 and June 2016.
Ms Trad told parliament as the council was continuing to fulfil its duties her legal options were limited. But she said if the council's operations deteriorated she would act.
"Should the situation deteriorate to the point where further intervention is required under the Local Government Act 2009, either in the form of removal of a councillor or councillors, or the dissolution of the council, my message to the Fraser Coast Council is simple: this government will take action," she said.
"If it proves necessary, this government will remove the council and ensure that the community has an opportunity to elect local government representatives who put the community interests ahead of childish squabbling and indulgent, egotistical behaviour."