Mercury (Hobart)

Call to job search again

Huon considers report into new GM


THE Huon Valley Council needs to restart its search for a new general manager, according to a former mayor amid ongoing concerns around a conflict of interest in the hiring process.

The Mercury on Tuesday revealed the successful applicant for the position, former TasWater employee Jason Browne, is in a relationsh­ip with Joanne Inches, the head of recruitmen­t agency Red Giant, which was contracted to narrow down the search.

There is no suggestion Mr Browne is not qualified for the role.

Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders has said the recruitmen­t process and claims of a conflict of interest had been managed with integrity.

But former mayor Peter Coad, who was sacked in 2016 in relation to council infighting, said there were many unanswered questions.

“The consultant did assess 85 applicatio­ns while potentiall­y conflicted and that’s a fact,” Mr Coad said.

“Fourteen were submitted to council and another 71 applicants were dismissed while the consultant was potentiall­y conflicted.”

Mr Coad said it “didn’t pass the pub test”.

“Knowing one of those applicatio­ns was the consultant’s partner, it’s clearly inappropri­ate,” he said.

“The consultanc­y should have been immediatel­y suspended.

“I think the whole process should be suspended and recommence­d with a new consultant.”

Mr Coad also questioned the deadline for applicatio­ns being extended from May 17 to May 24.

He said the council needed to clarify when Mr Browne’s applicatio­n was received.

But the council said the advertisin­g period was initially listed as two weeks because of an error and it was rectified when the mistake became apparent.

The ad, which is still on the Red Giant website, now says applicatio­ns closed on May 26.

The Huon Valley council will hold a closed special meeting on Wednesday at 5pm where it will discuss the report into the recruitmen­t process for the general manager.

The council will also discuss whether Mr Browne will start in the role on September 21 as planned.

“As per the regulation­s, matters relating to personnel, personal and confidenti­al nature are required to be considered in closed council,” a council spokesman said.

“Council can confirm, following the meeting, an update is proposed to be released to the public.”

The council will also consider whether the report will be released publicly.

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