Jobs headache for new shire
ONE of the first jobs for the new Douglas Shire Council when its starts on January 1 will be to consider the position of those staff transferred to it by Cairns Regional Council which are excess to the new shire’s needs.
Under the de-amalgamation regulations Douglas is required to place people being transferred from Cairns into the Douglas structure where possible, and where they can’t ‘‘meaningfully’’ be placed their name has to go on a list to the newly elected Douglas Shire Council after January 1 for its consideration.
It was reported last month that 30 positions would be transferred to Douglas Shire. But it is understood that the new shire will have jobs for only 14 of these people.
Current staff numbers booked to the shire are 114, being staff who had been working in the Douglas area already. These people were advised in July that they would transfer across on January 1. The CEO of the ‘‘continuing council’’, in this Cairns, has the task of drawing up the list of positions being handed to the new shire. Under this mechanis the CRC could have transferred up to 165 people to Douglas but had pulled back somewhat from that figure by including 18 vacancies in the list of 163 positions being transferred.
The full de-amalgamation will occur on January 1.
Transfer manager for Douglas, Mr Jeff Tate, said he would work with public service unions regarding the transfer of staff excess to the positions available. ‘‘The Cairns enterprise agreement transfers across to Douglas and it has provisions about voluntary redundancies, there no forced redundancies’’.
But if there were staff who did not take up the voluntary redundancies, the situation is clouded, he said. ‘‘The clauses don’t quite fit the situation,’’ Mr Tate said, ‘‘because when the work agreements were drawn up no-one envisaged de-amalgamation. It will be a legal question and right now I don’t have an answer to that but I will soon. I would add that we are working with unions as well.’’
There had been a call for expressions of interest among the CRC staff for those looking to move to the new shire council, and ‘‘we got a few’’, Mr Tate said. Apart from that, the new shire had advertised some vacant management and specialist positions in order to fill them.
Among those recently recruited are a new head of water and waste management, Mr Wouter Van Der Merwe (53), a water scientist and chemist originally from South Africa who took up a job with the Cradle Mountain Water Corp in Tasmania in 2009. He is married and now lives in Cooya.
Alongside him is the new head of finance and IT for the shire, Mr Julian Porter (30), an accountant who hails originally from Ballarat and was most recently working for a hotels group in Darwin. He is not entirely new to this region, having worked for three years in Cairns some years ago (where he played for the Saints AFL team). He is married and has bought a property in Port Douglas.
Both officers speak very highly of the motiv- ation and the attitude of the staff they are working with now. Mr Porter says there are worthwhile management advantages to ‘‘declustering’’ away from the CRC. Mr Van Der Merwe speaks well of the water and wastewater infrastructure he has taken over. ‘‘It’s good,’’ he says. ‘‘We need a water plan for the Shire and the infrastructure gives us a good base for that.’’ Both men view the setting up of the new shire structure as an exciting opportunity for themselves and the community they serve.
‘‘The thing to realise,’’ says Mr Porter, ‘‘is that this is not the old shire back again – it’s a whole new shire being created.’’
NEW FACES AT THE SHIRE: Wouter Van Der Merwe and Julian Porter