Mayor Brad Carter.
Mayor Brad Carter.

Mayor wants outside review

MAYOR Brad Carter will urge councillors to approve an external, independent review of Rockhampton Regional Council.

He says that after three-and-a-half years as an amalgamated authority it is time to reassess the way the organisation works.

His call, which will be voted on later this month, comes as an increasing number of councillors are being openly critical of the administration, its systems and the performance of some staff.

Cr Carter wants outsiders to look at management issues, the way complaints are handled, council structures, value for money and effectiveness of service delivery and says other councillors might want to add to the list.

“As we approach the end of this term of administration, we should have a good hard look at ourselves. We have a responsibility to ensure the council is working effectively and efficiently and I want all councillors to have the opportunity to highlight areas of concern,” he said.

In recent weeks friction between councillors and senior council officers has become increasingly apparent.

Cr Tony Williams said he believed an advisory report by officers on recycling charges for schools was biased, while Cr Cherie Rutherford and Cr Bill Ludwig clashed openly with senior management over the lack of routine maintenance on some council-owned assets.

And Cr Stephen Schwarten was so concerned about interference by officers that he proposed councillors should meet regularly without staff to discuss their concerns. Councillors overwhelmingly approved his suggestion.

This week Cr Williams was forced to issue a public apology when 22,000 dog registration notices were sent out so late that recipients had only two or three days to meet the payment deadline. He has demanded a detailed report into what went wrong.

And councillors earlier rubbished $800,000 worth of investigation into a site for a new super dump, declaring that research and conclusions by staff were flawed.

Cr Carter said a review would examine whether such incidents were symptomatic of a bigger issue.

He found himself at loggerheads with bureaucrats earlier this year who refused to brief him on the Talisman-Sabre exercise before he met the Defence Minister and said other councillors had complained that they had not been adequately briefed by officers on some issues.

Cr Rutherford yesterday welcomed the mayor’s move.

“Sometimes councillors feel that they are seen by officers as no more than a rubber stamp to approve what they want. In a lot of cases decisions are three parts down the track before councillors get to have a say.”

The mayor said he believed the bulk of functions of council performed well and that the vast majority of the 1200 employees could not be faulted.

But he said critics like Les Wilson and others who had raised issues about workers leaning on shovels and a general lack of productivity deserved an answer.

“I’m not saying Les is right when he says there is systemic waste, but I think we do have to look at it,” Cr Carter said.

“I want a review that asks if there is a better way we can manage our workforce.”

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