Skip to main content
Home
  Email Internal Link   Email External Link  

Report Details


Committee Name:

Public Administration and Finance Committee (2001 - 2005)

House:

Legislative Council
Report Type:Report

Title:

Local Government Act 1995
Report No:6
No of Pages:215
Physical Location:Legislative Council Committee Office

Presentation Date:

12/12/2003
Inquiry Name(s):Local Government Act 1995


Click here to view the report
Click here to view the Government's response to the report


Hide details for Executive Summary and RecommendationsExecutive Summary and Recommendations
Executive Summary
1.On July 2 2003, the Minister for Local Government and Regional Development requested that the Committee undertake an investigation into the events surrounding the appointment of the current Chief Executive Officer of the City of Joondalup, Mr Denis Smith.

2.On July 23 2003, the Committee resolved to conduct an inquiry into the matters raised in the Minister’s request.

3.Given the function of the Committee to undertake inquiries into systemic issues relating to public administration and financial management in Western Australia, the Committee resolved to treat the events surrounding the appointment of Mr Denis Smith by the City of Joondalup as an illustrative practical case study as part of a broader inquiry into those provisions of the Local Government Act 1995 dealing with the appointment of local government chief executive officers and the administrative practices adopted by local governments to give effect to those provisions generally.

4.It is clear from the evidence gathered over the course of the inquiry that the Council of the City of Joondalup is bitterly divided by matters relating to the appointment and continuing employment of the City’s Chief Executive Officer. This bitterness is clearly adversely impacting upon the efficient functioning of the Council and the day to day operations of the City of Joondalup.

5.Although there is evidence that the origins of this conflict predate the appointment of Mr Smith as CEO, it is clear that the circumstances surrounding the employment of Mr Smith have now become almost the sole focus of the conflict. The Committee believes that the current conflict may have been lessened to a significant degree if certain best practice administrative procedures had been adopted, or more rigidly applied, by the City of Joondalup in the process of the selection and appointment of its Chief Executive Officer.

6.Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the current provisions of the Local Government Act 1995, whilst presently providing an extremely high level of autonomy for local governments, is not sufficiently detailed or prescriptive enough with respect to the processes that should be followed by local governments in undertaking what is arguably a Council’s single most important function; that of appointing its Chief Executive Officer.

7.The Committee has therefore made a number of recommendations for the implementation of various best practice administrative procedures across local government in Western Australia, and for the amendment of the Local Government Act 1995 to provider clearer guidance for local governments.

8.Finally, the Committee has made a number of observations regarding the powers and role of the Minister for Local Government and Regional Development and the Department of Local Government and Regional Development under the Local Government Act 1995, and expresses its concern at the current overly-conservative and restrictive interpretation of these powers with respect to intervention in local governments where there is clear evidence of administrative inefficiency and dysfunction.

9.In the last week the Minister has introduced three new elements:

i)Introduced legislation to the Parliament to change the Local Government Act 1995 to ensure that Chief Executive Officers positions are advertised (Hansard Thursday, 4th December 2003.)

ii)Suspended the Joondalup City Council and appointed Commissioners. (Hansard Friday 5th December 2003).

iii)Announced proposed legislation to establish a new system for dealing with complaints of improper behaviour by elected local government officials. (Hansard, Thursday 11th December 2003).


Recommendations



Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and the Western Australian Local Government Association undertake a review of the procedures adopted by local governments in executing official documents and applying their common seal, with a view to establishing clear best practice guidelines.



Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and the Western Australian Local Government Association should give consideration to developing a general best practice recruitment process for local government which is aligned, where practical given the unique situation of local governments, to that currently applying in the State public sector for the recruitment of Senior Executive Service staff.



Recommendation 3: The Committee supports the proposed amendment to section 5.36 of the Local Government Act 1995, and recommends that it be mandatory for vacant local government chief executive officer positions to be advertised in at least one statewide circulation newspaper, and that in the case of large local governments also one nationwide circulation newspaper. Furthermore, there should be an express exception to this requirement for those circumstances where there is an extension or renewal of an existing contract between a local government and its Chief Executive Officer.



Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that:
(a) the Government give consideration to amending the Local Government Act 1995 to require local governments, prior to advertising a vacant Chief Executive Officer position, to obtain advice from the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal as to an appropriate range in which to negotiate a remuneration package for the position;
(b) the Government give consideration to amending the Local Government Act 1995 to permit local governments to advertise a Chief Executive Officer position with a remuneration package within a specified negotiable range as determined by the relevant Council after its consideration of the advice from the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal; and
(c) Councils be required to follow a public and accountable process, to be developed by the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and the Western Australian Local Government Association, which may require the re-advertising of the position, in circumstances where a Council wishes to appoint a candidate to the advertised position on a total remuneration package in excess of the advertised range.



Recommendation 5: The Committee supports the preparation by the Western Australian Local Government Association of a ‘Guide for Employing Local Government Chief Executive Officers’, to be distributed to all local governments in Western Australia along with details of the Western Australian Local Government Association’s existing recruitment and selection service for local governments.



Recommendation 6: The Committee does not support the reintroduction of minimum academic and experience qualification requirements in the Local Government Act 1995 for local government chief executive officers. The Committee, however, recommends that, in conjunction with any amendment to the Local Government Act 1995 introducing a prescribed mandatory advertising requirement for vacant local government chief executive officer positions, a further requirement be prescribed that any such advertisement must contain a statement indicating that minimum selection requirements have been established for the position by the relevant local government Council and that these minimum selection requirements are contained in a publicly available document.



Recommendation 7: The Committee recommends that any guidelines prepared by the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and/or the Western Australian Local Government Association relating to the employment of local government chief executive officers should state that a Council must satisfy itself as to the existence of any academic qualifications and experience claimed by an applicant in those circumstances where the Council has determined the minimum academic qualifications and experience required for the position.



Recommendation 8: The Committee recommends that the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and the Western Australian Local Government Association liaise on the development of a suitable education campaign or guidelines for local governments on the specific requirements of section 5.36(2)(b) of the Local Government Act 1995.



Recommendation 9: The Committee recommends that the Department of Local Government and Regional Development, the Western Australian Local Government Association, and Local Government Managers Australia (WA Division Inc) undertake consultation and jointly develop a model contract of employment for local government chief executive officers. Furthermore, a formal process must be put in place by Councils to ensure that any variations to such a model contract of employment for chief executive officers are public, accountable and consistent with the Local Government Act 1995.



Recommendation 10: The Committee recommends that the Local Government Act 1995 be amended to provide that copies of the employment contracts of local government chief executive officers are to be available to all electors of the relevant local government area, subject to the deletion from the contract of any bank account information and private contact details.



Recommendation 11: The Committee recommends that all Western Australian local governments should note and endeavour to implement the recommendations of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Report on investigation into Mr Glen Oakley’s use of false academic qualifications, and that they be noted in any guidelines developed for the employment of local government chief executive officers.