As you are no doubt aware the previous CEO Michael Campaign departed much earlier than was expected leaving the council without a CEO at what is a very busy time of the year. The council strategic and shire plan required to be updated; the budget needed to be finalised and there needed to be preparations for the annual report and end of the financial year. It was unfortunate that little work had been done on these important projects prior to the departure.
The proposed start date for the new CEO was not until June 1, some 6 weeks after Michaels’s departure. Accordingly council appointed Mr Russell Anderson at the end of April, as the temporary CEO. Russell was previously a councillor for Litchfield Shire Council. He then spent about 8 years as there CEO until he retired about 2 years ago. He now does consultancy work and has part time positions on various council boards and committees. It was great to have him on board for the last 5 weeks. Russell experience and knowledge was of great assistance to council staff and he has been asked to provide support and backup on an ongoing basis.
Ms Deborah Allen, the new permanent CEO commenced work on 1 June. Deborah has hit the ground running and has taken up the challenges with enthusiasm.
I wrote to Minister Price to confirm that the new CEO had commenced duties.
In this last 6 weeks I have had a number of media events including ABC Radio where I was able to discuss some of the issues concerning local residents as well as advertise local events including the MUFF and WAGS. I am also aware that the television story relating to the cleanup of the Kenbi Land claim area first broadcast on ABC TV in April, was re-broadcast nationally earlier this month.
The Council Auditor has done an interim audit this month and I met with him to discuss some issues
I continue to meet with the CEO, face to face on a weekly basis.
I have had meetings and telephone discussions with a number of residents wishing to air some concerns and clarify council position and policy on a number of matters.
I have also successfully lobbied TELSTRA to install ADSL Internet free of charge at the Cox Country Club. Hopefully it will be installed in time for MUFF
Council had a visit from Mr David Willing and Mr Shaun Harding from the Department of Local Government who called to meet the new CEO and to discuss long term plans for the Cox Peninsula. The department advised that it is currently looking for a suitable site to establish a waste transfer station. The department officers warned that whilst the cost of establishing the Waste transfer station will be met by the NTG and the Commonwealth government, but the ongoing costs will need to be met from the councils budget. We will need to build this expense into the 2016-17 budget. It is thought that the ongoing costs could be in excess of $100,000 annually and may well require the implementation of a Waste Disposal levy on top of rates.
In discussions with NTG some time ago I was assured that the construction of a Transfer Station at Wagait would be done to meet more than the short term requirements of the area. However more recent discussions with NTG seems to indicate that they are looking to renege on these proposals and only provide Wagait with a cheap and nasty short term solution. I did indicate strongly that we would not accept any such shortcuts.
On Friday 5th June there was a briefing by KPMG in relation to the TOPROC Strategic Plan which should be in a final draft very shortly.
On 9th June the CEO, Councillor Thorpe and I attended the Belyuen, Coomalie, Wagait LG working group meeting at Belyuen.
The Dept of Local government officers reiterated what they had said earlier in the week in so far as the NTG cabinet will be discussing this issue this month and that the time is probably near when councils should consider an amalgamation. To this end they propose that all unincorporated lands and Belyuen be incorporated as soon as possible in one local government area and that this new entity along with the existing councils of Coomalie and Wagait form a transition committee to move forward. This will be discussed in more detail at the next working group meeting which is to be held at Wagait in August or September.
The Department has indicated that Gary Higgins and Kezia Purick are both in favour of this proposal which was first suggested by Dave Tollner back in 2007. The department was also keen to bring Litchfield Council into the discussions to re-establish the originally proposed Top-End Regional Council.
The Department of Local government are very adamant that they want to see these three councils amalgamate along with the unincorporated land into a regional Council with local boards. These local Boards do not seem to work well for the existing regional councils and I indicated they the community may not be very receptive to this proposal. Residents who feel strongly about this issue should speak with councillors and more importantly to the local member Gary Higgins.