Coun­cil and Gillard “part ways”

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROBERT MUIR

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil and Gen­eral Man­ager Chris Gillard have agreed to “part ways for the best in­ter­est of all par­ties in­volved”.

After an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil last week called by Mayor Pat Bourke, it was ev­i­dent the work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Mr Gillard and coun­cil was un­likely to con­tinue and ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gan to de­ter­mine the fu­ture of his con­tract which ran un­til De­cem­ber 2020.

After ini­tially re­main­ing quiet on the progress of those ne­go­ti­a­tions, Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil con­firmed in a state­ment re­leased Tues­day af­ter­noon that the Gen­eral Man­ager was set to depart.

The state­ment did not re­veal terms of the agreed de­par­ture, in­clud­ing any pos­si­ble pay­out to Mr Gillard.

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Mayor Pat Bourke con­firmed the ne­go­ti­a­tions had con­cluded and the par­ties had en­tered into a “con­fi­den­tial ar­range­ment part­ing ways”.

“Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil is chang­ing di­rec­tion and be­lieves a change in man­age­ment in the po­si­tion of Gen­eral Man­ager is ap­pro­pri­ate,” Mayor Bourke said.

“As coun­cil­lors, it is our role to pro­vide lead­er­ship and es­tab­lish pol­icy and the strate­gic di­rec­tion for the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the fu­ture of the coun­cil area.

“Coun­cil wishes to thank Mr Gillard for his ser­vice to coun­cil and its com­mu­ni­ties.”

Mr Gillard re­leased a state­ment say­ing it had been “a great priv­i­lege to lead the new coun­cil”.

“I would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to high­light the very hard work Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil staff un­der­take for the com­mu­nity,” Mr Gillard said.

“Over the past 18 months the work has been very chal­leng­ing and each staff mem­ber has con­trib­uted to build­ing a qual­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“I would like to thank the staff and wish ev­ery­one well for the fu­ture.”

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil con­firmed Pe­ter Gall will be Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Act­ing Gen­eral Man­ager un­til fu­ture no­tice

The work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Gen­eral Man­ager Chris Gillard and Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil be­gan to un­ravel at an ex­tra­or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing on Novem­ber 1, called by Mayor Pat Bourke.

At that meet­ing, coun­cil au­tho­rised its mayor and/or other des­ig­nated per­sons to ne­go­ti­ate in re­la­tion to the Gen­eral Man­ager’s con­tract of em­ploy­ment, on the mo­tion of new coun­cil­lors elected fol­low­ing the Septem­ber 9 elec­tion, Cr An­drew Kennedy and Deputy Mayor Shaun Whitechurch.

Coun­cil’s res­o­lu­tion also stated the mayor may seek as­sis­tance from the Of­fice of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment NSW and other des­ig­nated per­sons, and le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil in re­la­tion to the Gen­eral Man­ager’s con­tract of em­ploy­ment.

After the meet­ing, Cr Bourke told the me­dia, which in­cluded the Free Press, that a lot of con­ver­sa­tions were nec­es­sary about Mr Gillard’s con­tract.

“In the jour­ney of a new coun­cil, which was a merged en­tity, it was a very tough job,” the mayor said.

“Coun­cil wants to look at a fu­ture di­rec­tion it wants to take.”

Ex­plain­ing his rea­son­ing to the Free Press for call­ing last Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, Cr Bourke said: “I was ap­proached by a num­ber of coun­cil­lors to clear the is­sue. There had been some an­i­mos­ity.”

Nei­ther the mover nor sec­on­der of last week’s mo­tion would com­ment about any­thing to the Free Press about the sub­ject.

Se­nior In­dus­trial Of­fi­cer with the Of­fice of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment NSW, Ross Nas­sif at­tended the short, ap­prox­i­mate 35-minute ex­tra­or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing which was held in-com­mit­tee.

“The se­nior in­dus­trial of­fi­cer will as­sist in ne­go­ti­a­tions on Mr Gillard’s con­tract of em­ploy­ment,” Cr Bourke said.

Upon the meet­ing’s clo­sure, coun­cil again went be­hind closed doors, to fur­ther dis­cuss Mr Gillard’s sit­u­a­tion.

It is un­der­stood the ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing’s res­o­lu­tion via a se­cret bal­lot be­hind closed doors was not unan­i­mous but that the vast ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors voted in favour of the res­o­lu­tion, to in ef­fect, have Mr Gillard’s ser­vices ter­mi­nated.

The Free Press be­lieves it may have been a 6-3 vote in favour of the mo­tion, with pos­si­bly Crs Paul Miegel, Gail Law and David Lon­g­ley want­ing to re­tain Mr Gillard’s ser­vices in view of com­ments they made in the lead-up to elec­tion day.

As from Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 30, the Gen­eral Man­ager was on leave and coun­cil’s Di­rec­tor In­fra­struc­ture and En­vi­ron­ment Pe­ter Gall was act­ing Gen­eral Man­ager. He re­mains in the po­si­tion.

Mr Gillard com­menced duty as Gen­eral Man­ager with Corowa Shire Coun­cil in 2013 and was made In­terim Gen­eral Man­ager of the newly cre­ated Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil as a re­sult of the merger of Corowa and Urana Shires in May 2016.

His ap­point­ment as Gen­eral Man­ager was con­firmed by Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Ad­min­is­tra­tor Mike Eden last De­cem­ber, for a pe­riod of four years ef­fec­tive from May 2016, through to 2020.

Be­fore­hand, Mr Gillard’s per­for­mance as Corowa Shire Gen­eral Man­ager was en­dorsed un­der the reigns of May­ors Fred Long­mire and Paul Miegel.

Since amal­ga­ma­tion of the two shires, the road has been a rocky one es­pe­cially with the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of for­mer coun­cil­lors ap­pointed by the Ad­min­is­tra­tor, Mike Eden, to the Lo­cal Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Com­mit­tee (LRC) ahead of the first Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil vot­ing date of Septem­ber 9, 2017 for coun­cil­lors.

The LRC was es­tab­lished by Mr Eden in May 2016 with nine for­mer coun­cil­lors - four from the for­mer Urana Shire and five from the for­mer Corowa Shire - to act as a lo­cal ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee to the Ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Not feel­ing suf­fi­ciently in­volved, lis­tened to or con­sulted on coun­cil mat­ters, the three north­ern end for­mer Urana Shire coun­cil­lors who in­cluded the last mayor of Urana Shire Coun­cil, Pat Bourke, re­signed from the Lo­cal Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Com­mit­tee. Their de­par­tures were ad­vised at coun­cil’s Jan­uary 2017 meet­ing by the Ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Just three of the orig­i­nal nine mem­bers re­mained and Cr Gail Law had been added to the team. Mr Eden sub­se­quently in­creased the in­volve­ment of the four for­mer coun­cil­lors on coun­cil mat­ters. But it seems the dye had been cast.

In the lead-up to the elec­tion, there was jock­ey­ing for slots on vot­ing tick­ets. Many of the huge num­ber of 41 coun­cil­lor can­di­dates shored up their strong feel­ings about is­sues and be­lieved the ticket vot­ing sys­tem was the bet­ter method to have one or mem­bers (Nos. 1 and 2 on the ticket) elected to best rep­re­sent the Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil area. Three per­sons who stood in­de­pen­dently, Crs Gail Law, David Lon­g­ley and Paul Miegel were suc­cess­ful.

Dur­ing the ten­ure of Mr Eden from May 2016 to Septem­ber 2017, without elected coun­cil­lors, he had a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Mr Gillard.

At Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil’s in­au­gu­ral meet­ing on Septem­ber 26, Cr Bourke was voted in as mayor, win­ning the po­si­tion over the only other can­di­date, Cr Miegel. Cr Shaun Whitechurch then won the deputy mayor’s po­si­tion from Cr Miegel and Cr Law.

The now for­mer Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Gen­eral Man­ager Chris Gillard.

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