Mayor downplays CEO review rift

CEO Stuart Wearne
CEO Stuart Wearne

Last month Mr O’Neill proposed a motion on notice that the Town form a CEO performance review committee to conduct an annual review of chief executive Stuart Wearne’s performance.

The move caused fallout with Mr Wearne who said in a report to council last week the mayor had not acted in good faith.

The motion failed at last week’s council meeting with councillors saying the friction between the Mr O’Neill and Mr Wearne was not in the best interests of the Town.

A second motion that the two men meet to discuss the matter, with a Department of Local Government representative present, within 10 days was passed unanimously.

Mr Wearne’s last performance review was in April 2013.

His contract was renewed in October 2013.

In his report to council he said it was accepted protocol for the mayor to liase with the chief executive and that a policy of ‘no surprises’ should hold firm, so that neither party was caught off guard during meetings.

After the meeting, Mr Wearne said he was concerned about the way the motion was delivered and that some of the wording needed minor changes for clarity.

‘That speaks to the idea that it would have been better to discuss it beforehand,’ he said.

Mr O’Neill said the motion was in response to a legislative requirement to hold the review annually and he had anticipated it would simply trigger the formation of a committee.

When asked after the meeting if he regretted the way he approached the matter, Mr O’Neill said he had acted on advice.

‘My advice is it must be done at least once every year of employment. I took advice on how to go about this. Regret is not relevant,’ he said.

‘I want to be the mayor of a cohesive council that is inclusive and responsive to residents. A council that plans for the future.’

Mr Wearne said he was satisfied with the outcome and that he expected the matter would be dealt with appropriately.

A Department of Local Government and Communities spokeswoman confirmed the Act stated that the performance of each local government employee, employed for a term of more than one year, is to be reviewed at least once every year of employment.

‘The process for scheduling a CEO’s performance review is usually provided for in the CEO’s employment contract,’ she said.

‘It is open to council to initiate this and an independent facilitator can be involved.’