Local Government Minister reminds Canning Mayor Ng to act in best interests of ratepayers over CEO review

Mayor Paul Ng.
Local Government Minister Paul Miles.
Mayor Paul Ng. Local Government Minister Paul Miles.

LOCAL Government Minister Paul Miles has reminded Canning Mayor Paul Ng to act in the best interests of ratepayers after the Mayor made an unsuccessful move to take chief executive probationary review and reporting responsibilities off a council committee at the December council meeting.

The motion was lost 2-7, with Margaret Hall the only councillor supporting the Mayor’s bid.

Mr Miles said the whole council was responsible for the employment and ongoing performance reviews of the chief executive.

“Under the Local Government Act 1995, the council is responsible for the employment of the CEO and for undertaking regular performance reviews to ensure the CEO is achieving the best outcomes for the community,” he said.

“It is imperative that local governments act in the best interest of their ratepayers at all times and that our communities can have confidence in the decision-making of their councillors.”

Cr Ng’s bid came three years after the Kendall Report into City of Canning governance issues found former Mayor Joe Delle Donne’s autocratic management style – and strained relationship with chief executive Mark Darcombe – contributed to the poor management of the council.

Cr Ng said the motion was put forward to advance the chief executive review date before December 27 but did not explain why he sought to remove councillors from the review.

“I was mindful that the date for the CEO probationary review was approaching and my amendment was designed to expedite the review before (the six-month review date) December 27 (and) the motion was not supported by Council,” he said.

Councillors rejected the motion and after a 40-minute deliberation, voted to appoint councillors David Brown and Jesse Jacobs as members of the performance and salary review committee with Deputy Mayor Lindsay Holland and Cr Ng.

“The committee conducted the probationary review on December 23, 2016 and will report to Council on the outcome of the review in February 2017,” Cr Ng said.

“The committee will meet annually to review the chief executive’s performance and salary.”

Cr Ng said the Performance and Salary Review Committee was created and would act in accordance with the Local Government Act 1995 and the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996.

Mr Miles said the State Government was preparing legislation to enable the Office of the Auditor General to be responsible for the audit function for local government.

He said transparency tools to boost accountability and transparency in the sector such as the MyCouncil website and councillors training were keys to improving governance and decision-making.

“Since becoming the Minister for Local Government, I have also made a commitment to act swiftly where serious governance concerns have arisen,” Mr Miles said.

“Last year, I appointed a commissioner to the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and more recently ordered the suspension of the Shire of Exmouth.”

Original motion:

Requests the Chief Executive Officer Performance and Salary Review Committee to undertake a probationary review of the Chief Executive Officer’s performance and report to Council in February 2017.

What the Mayor proposed:

Authorises the Mayor to undertake a probationary review of the Chief Executive Officer’s performance and notify Councillors of the review outcome.