Council responds to Ombudsman’s report

The Ombudsman report was not discussed at the 23 minute meeting of Redland City council on 8 February

The Ombudsman report was not discussed at the 23 minute meeting of Redland City Council on 8 February

Significant issues such as responding to the Ombudsman’s investigative report were not discussed at the Redland City Council general meeting last week.

With a very light agenda, it was no surprise that the meeting was brief – 23 minutes to be exact.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Cr Wendy Boglary – Mayor Karen Williams was absent from the meeting, attending an Australian Local Government Association Strategic Board Meeting.

About 10 of the meeting’s 23 minutes were taken up by Pastor Steve Kennedy who urged all present to say thank you more often.

After routine consideration of routine reports the Council voted to increase the cost of building certification, discussed in this Bulletin story.

Councillors also voted to approve the financial statements of Council’s property company the Redland Investment Corporation. These financial statements have not yet been made publicly available.

Here are links to the meeting minutes and the 23 minute video recording of the meeting.

New CEO appointed

Redland City Council has appointed as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Andrew Chesterman. He will take over from outgoing CEO Bill Lyon on 18 April 2017.

More information is available in the Bulletin story:

Former Newman government director-general and Public Service Commissioner appointed to Redlands top job.

The decision to appoint Mr Chesterman as CEO was not made at a formal Council Meeting. Some years ago, when Melva Hobson was Mayor, councillors delegated decision-making about CEO appointments to the Mayor, and it seems that this delegation has never been rescinded.

It’s understood that:

  • Current Mayor Karen Williams has discussed the matter of CEO appointments at informal non-public meetings with all divisional councillors.
  • Discussions at these meetings has been robust with decisions to not extend Mr Lyon’s tenure and to appoint Mr Chesterman being made on the basis of narrow majorities.

The Herculean task of cleaning the stables at Redland City Council should include restoring to the full Council the power to make decisions about appointment (and termination) of any chief executive officer.

Any councillor could bring up this matter as a notice of motion at a general meeting of the Council.

Council responds to Ombudsman report

On 5 January, when many people were still enjoying their Christmas holidays, the Queensland Ombudsman publicly released an investigative report into “the unreasonable threat of legal action against residents by Redland City Council”.

The Ombudsman receives thousands of complaints each year but investigative reports are published rarely (about 2-4 times per year) to inform the public “about serious systemic issues and make recommendations to improve decision-making practices”.

The Redland City Council defamation report raises questions about the integrity of decision-making by Redland City Council in relation to the way Council dealt with what the Ombudsman described as “relatively minor criticism of council’s decisions”.

It seems that Redland City Council has responded to the Ombudsman’s report but the text of Council’s response has not yet been made publicly available.

Cr Paul Golle (Division 3) posted on his Facebook page the following statement from outgoing CEO Bill Lyon.

After carefully reviewing the Ombudsman’s report, Council responded on Monday 6 February. The Ombudsman is still considering Council’s response, so it is appropriate to give his office the time it needs to read our response and decide how he would like to respond.

Council respects the role of the Ombudsman and we will continue working with his office, along with the State Government Department of Local Government to ensure the interests of both our employees and the public are reflected in everything we do.

In our response we reinforced to the Ombudsman that our intention has always been to create a safe workplace for our employees by responding to social media comments that are unfounded, defamatory and aimed at undermining individual officers in their public and professional capacity. This was acknowledged by the Ombudsman in his original report.

It’s not clear who authorised the Council’s response to the Ombudsman. The matter has not been discussed at any formal council meetings since the Ombudsman released his investigative report.

It would be totally inappropriate if the officeholders who were the subject of the Ombudsman’s critical report (Mayor, CEO and General Counsel) have prepared a ‘Council” response without the oversight and approval of the City’s divisional councillors.

Further reading about the Ombudsman’s report

Sale of properties

Redland City Council will be auctioning 24 properties on 9 March 2017 because their owners have not paid rates.

17 of the properties to be auctioned are situated on Russell Island. Three properties are on Macleay Island and there are also properties at Birkdale, Capalaba, Sheldon and Victoria Point.

More information is available in a Bulletin story and a Council news release.

Redlands2030 – 13 February 2017