ABC Radio Interview: Council CEOs

Local Government News Roundup host Chris Eddy was a guest on the breakfast show on ABC Radio Mildura/Swan Hill this morning.

He spoke with James Findlay about the number of councils currently recruiting for a chief executive officer.

There are four councils just in the northwest part of the state, and another four in Victoria, where the search is on for a CEO. 23 councils have had, or will have, a change of CEO already in this council term, which commenced with elections in October 2020.

You can listen to the interview here:

It starts around the 40 minute mark:

International Spotlight, 5th December 2021

Here are the stories that featured in the International Spotlight segment of the latest episode of the Local Government News Roundup – episode #79.

Two government commissioners have been installed at Slough Borough Council, in south east England, following a review into the governance and finances of the council which found problems stretching back several years.

The commissioners will oversee and assist with the council’s recovery and renewal plan.

Council Leader, James Swindlehurst, says the council has been working to identify savings over summer, reducing large budget gaps in the current and coming financial years, but that the council remains in a challenging financial position.

The government announced the appointment of the lead commissioner Max Caller and finance commissioner Margaret Lee on Wednesday, and they were on deck at the council the following day. Source: Slough Borough Council

Leicester City Council, in the East Midlands region of England, will spend upwards of £26M to acquire 371 homes from the private sector to reduce the number of people on the housing waiting list.

The homes are being bought using a £100M fund the council has created to address an affordable housing crisis.

There are currently more than 5,300 applicants waiting for homes to become available in the city. Source: BBC News

The next mayor of the City of Atlanta has been decided, with Andre Dickens winning a runoff election last week.

He outpolled 20 year council veteran Felicia Moore, who was seen as the frontrunner after polling the most votes by a wide margin in the first round of voting last month.

Dickens has been a councillor since 2013, and has campaigned on addressing crime and affordable housing in a city that has seen a 67 per cent increase in killings over the past two years. Source: NBC News

National Roundup, 5th December 2021

Here are the stories that featured in the National Roundup segment of the latest episode of the Local Government News Roundup – episode #79.

Local government elections have been held across NSW this weekend, and some mayoral results are already clear.

The 17 year reign of Clover Moore as Sydney’s Lord Mayor will continue, after she was comfortably re-elected for a fifth term.

Ms Moore has won an estimated 43.5 percent of the vote, down from 58 per cent at the last election in 2016.

The Wollongong mayoral race looks like going down to the wire, with two candidates separated by less than 1 percentage point last night. Incumbent Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery trails challenger Tania Brown by 0.8 of a percent.

There is also a tight race for the mayoralty of Shellharbour, with independent Chris Homer holding 51.39% of first preferences this morning, ahead of ALP candidate Marianne Saliba on 48.61%, with less than half of the votes counted so far.

The incumbent mayor of Port Macquarie-Hastings, Peta Pinson, appears to have secured another term. She has polled 53 percent of first preference votes, with 22,000 votes counted out of a possible 66 ½ thousand votes.

Nuatali Nelmes has polled strongly to claim the mayoralty of Newcastle, with 41% percent of first preference counted so far.

And at Lake Macquarie, Kay Fraser has been returned for another term as mayor with more than 53% of first preference votes cast her way.

There are 34 mayoral elections being conducted, and more than 1,200 councillor positions being decided at 124 local councils across NSW, with many results not expected to be known for some time. Source: NSW Electoral Commission

The City of Adelaide has a new deputy lord mayor, with Cr Arman Abrahimzadeh OAM commencing in the role this week after being elected at the November Council meeting.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor has paid tribute to outgoing deputy lord mayor Mary Couros, who completed her term this week. It was the first time in over 20 years that the city had a female Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor.

The new deputy lord mayor is a tireless anti-domestic violence campaigner, and is the first person with Persian and Afghan heritage to hold the office. Source: City of Adelaide

A damning report has been tabled in the Queensland parliament calling for a commission of inquiry into that state’s anti-corruption body, the Crime and Corruption Commission.

The bipartisan Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee found that the CCC had breached its duty to remain independent and impartial; and that it failed to take into account all material considerations and evidence when deciding to charge eight Logan City councillors with fraud in 2019.

The committee has called for a commission of inquiry into the structure of the CCC. It stopped short of recommending the termination of the CCC Chair’s appointment, as had been suggested in submissions.

Following the report’s release, the Local Government Association of Queensland called for a public apology and compensation for the Logan councillors, and for the Chair Alan MacSporran to stand down from his position. Source: ABC News; Local Government Association of Queensland

The results of an independent review into NSW’s network of 13 joint organisations has been released by the local government minister Shelley Hancock.

The review has found that the joint organisations deliver strong and effective outcomes for regional communities, and the framework under which they operate is a credible, legitimate and transparent model of regional governance.

11 recommendations to further strengthen the model will be implemented by the Office of Local Government next year.

The network was introduced in 2018 through an investment from the government of $8.2 million in their establishment, sustainability and capacity. The 13 joint organisations focus on improving the delivery of services and infrastructure to regional communities.

87 regional councils are active members of a joint organisation, along with representatives of state agencies and other key stakeholders. Source: Office of Local Government NSW

Hobart City Council CEO Kelly Grigsby has announced a mandatory vaccination policy for staff, ahead of the Tasmanian border opening to domestic travellers this month.

Council employees will need to have booked their first by vaccination the 15th December under the proposed policy, and the second by 31st January.

The proposed policy is undergoing formal consultation with employees and unions in accordance with the Council’s enterprise agreement. Source: City of Hobart

The mayor of Aurukun Shire in Queensland has been named the Person of the Year at the 2021 National NAIDOC Awards.

Cr Keri Tamwoy is one of four Queenslanders to be recognised at the awards. She is co-founder of the Wik Women’s Group, which champions for education and safety of women and children. Her late mother, Alison Woola, also served as mayor of the shire of Aurukun, located in the remote western Cape York Peninsula. Source: NAIDOC

Victorian Roundup, 5th December 2021

Here are the stories that featured in the Victorian Roundup segment of the latest episode of the Local Government News Roundup – episode #79.

Brimbank City Council has appointed Fiona Blair as its next CEO.

Ms Blair has a background in state and local government, most recently in a senior role with the Department of Transport, and previously as a senior executive at the City of Port Phillip.

She will take over from Warren Roberts, who was lured out of retirement earlier this year to fill the role on an interim basis after the retirement of previous CEO Helen Morrissey.

Fiona Blair commences at Brimbank on the 24th January.

There are now 8 Victorian councils with a vacancy for a permanent CEO, with more appointments expected to be announced soon. Source: Brimbank City Council

While we’re in Brimbank and Melbourne’s West, a key document setting out the state government’s vision and framework for Sunshine transport precinct has been released, and it has received a positive response from Brimbank City Council.

The Sunshine Precinct Opportunity Statement recognises Sunshine as the centre of Melbourne’s west, and sets goals and objectives for achieving transformational outcomes from the $20B in planned infrastructure investment, including Melbourne Airport Rail and Geelong Fast Rail.

Brimbank Mayor Jasmine Nguyen, said the statement recognises the Council’s efforts in advocating to government to ensure that transport infrastructure coming to the city is about community and people, not just commuters and places. Source: Brimbank City Council

Victoria’s peak body, the Municipal Association of Victoria, has expressed concerns about a lack of community consultation in relation to proposed reforms to the Victorian planning system. 

MAV President Cr David Clark says there is genuine concern that the voice of the community, expressed through their elected councillors, may be lost.

He has cited examples of government action under the guise of pandemic recovery, that puts aside longer-term community aspirations.

Cr Clark says the planning system should not be overhauled for short-term economic benefit, and the MAV is ready to engage with the government on the reforms to ensure communities can express their concerns about planning decisions. Source: Municipal Association of Victoria

The Mayor of the City of Ballarat, Cr Daniel Moloney, has been elected as Chair of the Regional Capitals Australia advocacy group.

The group was formed 9 years ago to bring 51 regional capital cities together to present a unified voice to the federal government.

Cr Moloney takes over from the retired Albury mayor Kevin Mack who chaired the group for the past 12 months.

The composition of the board of Regional Capitals Australia has attracted some criticism in recent days, with gender advocates expressing disappointment in its all-male composition.

Mayors of member councils are eligible to represent their state on the board. Of the 51 regional capitals in Australia, 22 are current members of the group. 

Of those 22, three of five Victorian member councils have a female mayor. There are no female mayors currently in office at any of the remaining member councils. 

However, the mayoralties of the 7 NSW members are to be determined with elections taking place this weeked in that state. Source: City of Ballarat

There have been two appointments made to the Victorian Local Government Grants Commission.

Michael Ulbrick, a local government consultant and former Council CEO, has been reappointed for a further four years; and experienced state and local government executive Marg Allan has joined the commission.

Julie Eisenbise has completed her term as a member of the Commission, having been first appointed in 2013.

Mr Ulbrick and Ms Allan join Commission Chair John Watson, whose appointment runs until 31 October 2023. Source: Victorian Government Gazette p.2259

The state government has announced plans to purchase the Swinburne University site in Prahran as part of a long term plan to support an education and arts precinct in the area.

The announcement has been welcomed by the City of Stonnington as providing certainty for the community about how the site would be used in the longer term.

Mayor Jami Klisaris said securing the site as a long term education and arts hub will provide generational outcomes in Stonnington for residents and students. Source: City of Stonnington

5th December 2021 (#79)

In this episode of the Local Government News Roundup:

Brimbank Council announces its new CEO;

Victorians Council peak body concerned about a lack of consultation on planning reforms;

Some early results coming through from this weekend’s local government elections in NSW;

And a parliamentary committee calls for a commission of inquiry into Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

Just some of what’s ahead on the Roundup, which is brought to you by the Victorian Local Governance Association, an independent governance organisation supporting councils and councillors to achieve the highest standards of governance

Brimbank appoints new CEO
New Sunshine Precinct plan welcomed
Transparency needed now and into the future – MAV
Mayor elected Regional Capitals Australia Chair | City of Ballarat
New Grants Commission appointments (p.2259)
Victorian Government announcement about Swinburne Prahran site City of Stonnington
Mayoral Election Status
New Deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide
Queensland parliamentary committee reviewing Logan councillors’ dismissal recommends review of CCC structure
CCC Chair should stand down following damning parliamentary report – LGAQ
Joint organisation model gets tick of approval – Office of Local Government NSW
City of Hobart vaccination policy announced
2021 National NAIDOC awards recipients | NAIDOC
Slough welcomes commissioners – Slough Borough Council
Leicester City Council bid to spend £26m to cut housing wait list
Councilman Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayor race over Moore

1st December 2021 (#78)

On the Roundup today… a municipal monitor to be appointed to Yarra City Council; the Supreme Court hands down its judgment in a matter concerning a Yarra Councillor; CEO resignation and appointment news; and the winners announced in the National Federation Awards recognising excellence in local government.

Just some of what’s ahead on the Roundup, which is brought to you by the Victorian Local Governance Association, an independent governance organisation supporting councils and councillors to achieve the highest standards of governance.

Municipal Monitor Appointed To Yarra City Council
Supreme Court Judgment Summary
Jessie Holmes, Yarriambiack CEO resigns
Horsham Mutual Respect Charter
New Chair for One Gippsland
Working from home will spur city jobs and longer commutes
National Federation Awards presentation
Logan announces new CEO appointment;  Logan City Council appoints new CEO – ABC report
Former mayor of Beaudesert Shire, Joy Drescher has passed away
Vale, Joy Drescher – LGAQ
Ratepayers spared election delay tab – Office of Local Government NSW
Blue Mountains City Council develops an Asbestos Management Toolkit for all councils
NYC To Replace “Entirety” Of Coney Island’s Wood Boardwalk With Recycled Plastic
Murfreesboro mayor defends controversial ordinance limiting homeless outreach
Aberdeen Art Gallery named Scotland’s building of the year

New Episode – 28/11/21 (#77)

Today on the Local Government News Roundup… a name change on the cards for a Melbourne council; a requirement for equal prize money for professional sporting events in Bass Coast Shire; the final results from Victorian mayoral elections; the Queensland council losing its mayor and CEO in the same month; and the long serving mayor facing assault charges.

Just some of what’s ahead on the Roundup, which is brought to you by the Victorian Local Governance Association, an independent governance organisation supporting councils and councillors to achieve the highest standards of governance.

Council asked to consider Moreland name change‘Shocked’ Melbourne council to change name after discovering slavery link
East Gippsland responds to Fingerboards decision
Equal prize money in Bass Coast
Kingston alternative designs for SRL
Baw Baw exiting aged and disability services
Complete list: Victorian Mayors/Deputy Mayors
North Burnett CEO following Mayor out
Queensland’s longest-serving mayor to face court for allegedly assaulting two female security staff
Councils call for incentives to attract doctors to regions
Councillor misconduct review takes next step 
Infrastructure Contributions Reforms Joint Media Release
Kimberley Shire to pay for extraordinary election after councillor quits citing concerns
Cyber Security in WA Local Government
Derwent Valley Cr Performance Improvement Direction
South Africa’s ANC loses mayors in Johannesburg and Pretoria
Trust in local government stayed strong during pandemic, researchers find
Covid-19 pandemic has increased national division but bolstered local unity
Greenock will bid to become the eighth city in Scotland

Victorian Roundup, 24th November

Here are the stories that featured in the Victorian Roundup segment of episode #76 of the Local Government News Roundup.

Yarra City Council has selected Chris Leivers to be its Acting CEO when current CEO Vj Vaidyanath steps down next month.

Mr Leivers is the council’s Director of City Works and Assets, and has nearly 20 years experience in local government. He is also a director on the board of LGPro Victoria.

Mr Leivers takes up the Acting CEO role on 17 December. As previously reported, Ms Vaidyanath will be the inaugural CEO of Homes Melbourne from early in 2022. Source

The winners of the Premier’s Sustainability Awards for 2021 have been announced, and two Victorian Councils have cause for celebration.

Cardinia Shire Council is a winner in the Sustainable Places – Industry Leader category. Its Deep Creek Reserve project, turning 48 hectares of former farmland into a community park, has beaten out ONE20 Group Architects, Our Future Cities, Rail Projects Victoria and The Cape for the award.

Macedon Ranges Shire has been named winner of the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award for its Healthy Landscapes for Healthy Livestock project, which was initiated in response to poor land management outcomes observed across the shire.

Macedon Ranges was also a finalist in the Healthy Environment – Industry Leader category, while Latrobe City Council was a finalist in the Clean, affordable and secure energy – Industry Leader category. Source

We’re into the final week of mayoral elections around Victoria, and now here’s a roundup of results since our last program.

Boroondara City Council has elected Jane Addis as Mayor, and Wes Gault as Deputy. Cr Addis is in her third term on the Council, while Cr Gault is a first term councillor.

At Macedon Ranges Shire, it’s a second consecutive mayoral term, and fifth overall for Cr Jennifer Anderson. Rob Guthrie has been elected as deputy mayor.

Wangaratta Rural City has re-elected its Mayor Dean Rees to a further term, and also reappointed Harry Bussell as the Deputy Mayor.

Indigo Shire has a new Mayor, after Jenny O’Connor declared she would not seek another term. Bernard Gaffney is back as mayor, after serving in the role in the previous council term. Peter Croucher is the new deputy mayor of Indigo Shire, and will serve a 2 year term in the role.

Corangamite Shire has re-elected Ruth Gstrein as Mayor. Cr Gstrein is a fifth term councillor, and this will be her fifth time as Mayor. Geraldine Conheady is the new Deputy Mayor.

And at Stonnington City Council, Jami Klisaris is back in the mayoral robes for the second time, having last served as mayor in 2017. She is in her third term on the council. Long serving councillor and former 4 time mayor Melina Sehr has been re-elected as deputy mayor for the coming year.

Yarra City has deferred its election of the mayor yet again. A fourth attempt will be made at 8pm on Thursday 25th November.

You can keep track of the results as they come in on the Local Government News Roundup website.  List of Mayoral election results

A new public wifi network will soon be installed in Ararat and Lake Bolac, activating smart city and internet of things capability.

The state government is investing $1.56 million in a partnership between Ararat Rural City Council and Telstra to connect key economic, tourism, recreation and cultural places in the region.

Ararat Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison says the government investment has enabled the design of one of the most advanced public wifi networks in the world, capitalising on the first public trial of OpenRoaming technology in Australia.

The network underpins the Council’s plans to be Australia’s rural innovation capital, showcasing the latest technology for businesses, tourism and community users. Source

A proposed new interactive wetlands centre in Hobsons Bay is seeking state government funding of $16 million.

The Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre, to be located near the RAMSAR listed Cheetham wetlands, will be a regional wellbeing and environment centre of immersive teaching and learning, and will promote ecotourism and community participation in nature.

The centre has been designed by internationally renowned Grimshaw Architects, and will feature a wetlands viewing tower, learning laboratories, research facilities, and nature and water-based play spaces.

The project will take up to 2 years to complete and is expected to create 40 full time jobs. Attracting government funding for the project is a key advocacy priority for Hobsons Bay City Council. Source


A new Orange Door Network location is now operating in Outer Gippsland. The network is providing coordinated family violence and family wellbeing services to families across East Gippsland and Wellington Shires.

Face to face service is up and running in Bairnsdale, with a site in Sale due to open early next year. Source

The latest round of the Animal Welfare Fund grants program is open for applications from animal shelters, foster carers, and not for profit and community vet clinics. Grants of up to $100,000 are available for equipment purchases and service upgrades; and up to $200,000 to establish new, low-cost vet clinics.

Applications close on 24th December. Source

And the new Shepparton Art Museum is now officially open, after a virtual ceremony was held on Friday night. The $50 million museum was supported by a $12.5M investment from the state government, along with support from Greater Shepparton City Council, the commonwealth government and philanthropic partners.

Its first major exhibition is a presentation of work by legendary Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus, called The Land Within. Source 1 ; Source 2

National Roundup, 24th November

Here are the stories that featured in the National Roundup segment of episode #76 of the Local Government News Roundup.

The head of one of Tasmania’s largest government departments has secured the highly sought after CEO position at Gold Coast City Council.

Various media outlets, including the ABC, have reported the appointment of Tim Baker to the position. He is currently secretary of Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

He was also chief of staff to former Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman.

Joe McCabe will remain as acting CEO until Mr Baker commences at Gold Coast on 1st February. Source

Queensland’s Douglas Shire Council is expected to make an appointment to fill its vacant CEO position by Christmas. reports that applications have closed for the role, with a strong pool of applications received.

The vacancy was created when Mark Stoermer announced his resignation  in August, just a month prior to the expiry of his three year employment contract. Mr Stoermer is a former CEO of Nillumbik Shire Council in Victoria.

Juanita Warner has been acting in the CEO position since August. Source

South Australia has a new local government minister, at least for a while, following the decision by Deputy Premier Vicki Chapman to stand aside for a state ombudsman investigation.

The ombudsman is looking into whether Ms Chapman had a conflict of interest relating to a ministerial decision about a port proposal on Kangaroo Island.

As has been widely reported, Ms Chapman denies she had a conflict of interest in the matter despite a parliamentary committee inquiry finding that she did.

Josh Teague, a backbencher from an Adelaide Hills electorate, has been sworn in as a minister and takes on the portfolios of Attorney General, Planning and Local Government in Ms Chapman’s absence. Source

Changes to state legislation around use of micromobility devices such as electric scooters has been welcomed by the City of Hobart, ahead of a hire-and-ride trial.

City of Hobart’s City Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Harvey said the legislative changes will allow the City of Hobart – in collaboration with the City of Launceston – to proceed with the long-awaited trial.

It was announced in September that two experienced micromobility vendors – Beam and Neuron – had been selected to operate e-scooter hire services in the two cities.

It is hoped that e-scooters will be available for hire in Hobart before Christmas, once changes to the Tasmanian Road Rules have been enacted. Source

A new release of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows employment in local government across Australia steadying, while state public sector employment is climbing.

The Mandarin has analysed the data, and reports that there are 190,800 people working in local government across Australia, a growth of 2.5%.

That compares to almost 250,000 at the federal government level, up 0.6%, and 1.6 million public servants employed by state governments, up 3.3% in the last financial year.

The biggest increase in public servants was in Victoria, followed by NSW. Source

Coming up next week is the announcement of the winners of the National Federation Awards, celebrating achievements of local governments across Australia.

The awards, presented by Local Government PRofessionals Australia, honour local governments for their effort in making a difference in their communities.  

They showcase the innovative solutions that demonstrate leading practices, deliver quality services and better outcomes for communities, and have the potential to be replicated across the country.

Winners will be announced in five categories, including Environmental Leadership and Sustainability; Innovative Management Initiative; Community Service Delivery; Partnerships and Collaboration; and Emerging Leader.

The award ceremony will be live streamed on the Local Government Professionals Australia YouTube channel from 3.00pm AEDT on Tuesday 30th November. Source

Pre-poll voting has opened in the NSW local government elections.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the eligibility criteria for pre-polling voting had been relaxed this year to ease crowds on election day, 4th December.

People are allowed to vote by post if they are isolating due to COVID-19; live in a retirement village, nursing home or are in hospital; or they reasonably believe attending a polling place on election day will pose a risk to the health or safety of themselves to others. Source

Meanwhile the NSW Electoral Commission still has a significant number of vacancies for paid jobs for the upcoming elections, particularly in the southeast of the state.

The ABC reports that hundreds of jobs are yet to be filled in the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro local government areas. Source

International Spotlight, 24th November

Here are the stories that featured in the International Spotlight segment of episode #76 of the Local Government News Roundup.

In the UK, councils will be forced to take on responsibility for the care of unaccompanied asylum seeker children arriving via the English Channel.

The BBC reports more than 100 children are living in hotels in Kent and other council areas on the south coast of England, due to a shortage of places in children’s homes.

217 councils will be obliged to accept an allocation of the children under a plan being implemented by the Home Office. Councils will receive £143 per night per child under the scheme. Source

An English council will formally request the ability to host hybrid council meetings, allowing councillors to take part remotely.

While councils were able to conduct virtual meetings during the COVID restrictions last year, the High Court later ruled that they could not continue the practice.

The BBC reports that North Norfolk District Council will lobby the government to allow the practice in England, as already occurs in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Source

To the US, where a city council in Texas has taken the unusual step of buying a stake in the city’s largest shopping mall.

The mayor of Balcones Heights, Suzanne de Leon, said the purchase would allow the city to play a bigger role in the future of the property. 

With its 45% stake, purchased for $5.4M USD, the council will have veto power over what businesses can move into the mall.

Mayor de Leon told Texas Public Radio that the progressive city council voted unanimously to take a stake in the mall. Source