Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Secrecy at Council

The Local Government Act 1993, under which Newcastle Council exists, requires that The general manager must, at least once annually, report to the council on the contractual conditions of senior staff (section 339 of the Act).

General Manager Dore refused to abide by this section of the Local Government Act 1993 (and the Lord Mayor was happy to ignore the GM's failure).

The Newcastle Council Annual Report does include some information about senior staff NCC Annual Report 0607, but obviously doesn't comply with the Act ('contractual conditions' means more than just money!)

I have repeatedly asked, since being elected in 2004, for this information to be reported publicly, in accordance with the Act.

When I put this in writing in 2007, I got this reply:

And I asked formally again when the Department of Local Government released their draft Promoting Better Practice Review Report, which backed up my request, and got this reply:

The Department of Local Government recognised that this information should be reported in accordance with the Act in their final Promoting Better Practice Review Report (now on Council's website: Newcastle Council's Better Practice Report)

Recommendation 41:
Council should ensure proper reporting takes place on an annual basis on the contractual conditions of its senior staff having regard to the provisions of section 339 of the Local Government Act 1993 and the matters raised in this report.

The report noted on page 83:
Better practice in this area is for the General Manager to include the following information in the report for all senior staff employed by Council:
* list of senior staff
* the specific term of each contract and when it
was entered into
* the value of the renumeration package and any variations
that have been made in the past year or which are proposed for the ensuring year
* the timing and outcome of any performance assessments that were undertaken
* a copy of any performance agreement entered into for the current year
and/or proposed for the ensuing year, and
* details of any other "material" matters. These could include any requirement for the General Manager or other senior staff to advise of s/he is seeking an extension of the current contract or reapointment for a further term and similarly, any requirement for the Council to advise the General Manager/ senior staff member of any intention not to renew their appointment and/or to readvertise their position.

When will the administration comply with the Act?

Monday, 24 March 2008

Ban developer donations

Newcastle Greens
24 March 2008

Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne today has called on the Premier Mr Iemma to institute his proposed ban on developer donations in time for this year’s Local Government elections due on 13 September.

“It is very good that the Premier has changed his position and is thinking about adopting Greens’ policy on banning donations to political parties, but his proposal needs to be implemented in time for this year’s Local Government elections in September and needs to include a cap on election expenditure,” Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne said.

“Local Government is the area where most development proposals are dealt with and, from what we’ve seen at Wollongong, is an area where developers make significant contributions to local election campaigns.

“In the last State Election, the Lord Mayor Councillor John Tate received many donations from developers for his $200,000 campaign. This type of electioneering must stop.

“Developer donations are not being given to ‘help’ democracy; they are about buying access and buying influence.

“And spending $200,000 on one election by one candidate is obscene. The Greens have called for individual candidates spending to be limited to $30,000.

“Twenty seven countries, including Canada, UK, Spain and New Zealand, have imposed a ceiling on overall election expenditure.

“It is achievable and it should happen without delay.

“We have Local Government elections in Newcastle in September, just over 5 months away. It is important that the Premier doesn’t dither putting this policy announcement into legislation and doesn’t leave the implementation of this important policy to after this year’s Local Government elections,” Councillor Osborne said.