Commissioner appointed at second WA council

In other appointments

  • Julie Bishop’s controversial private sector move
  • Graham Quirk joins Queensland Racing
  • First Indigenous board member for Victorian procurement board

Commissioner appointed after ‘significant complaints’ about WA council

The West Australian government has appointed a Commissioner to run the troubled Town of Port Hedland council.

Fredrick Riebling

Fredrick Riebeling, a former state MP and local government councilor, has taken charge at the council following ongoing complaints and concerns over  the last 18 months, Local Government Minister David Templeman said in a statement this week.

Mr Templeman said the government’s attempts resolve the matter with an appointment of a mentor last year had failed and council had failed to demonstrate why it shouldn’t be suspended.

“It is with regret I have had to step in as Minister to suspend the council and appoint a commissioner due to significant complaints and concerns over the past 18 months,” he said.

“Following the issuing of the Show Cause Notice, I believe the Town has not provided any compelling reasons or justification that allay concerns about the council’s future capacity to govern.

“Ratepayers and residents of the Town of Port Hedland are entitled to expect that their elected members will provide leadership for the community and effectively manage and control operations in the Town.”

Port Hedland is the second WA council to be handed over to a Commissioner in less than a month.

On June 26 Mr Templeman announced the appointment of Paul Omodei to administer the “dysfunctional” Perenjori Shire Council following the resignation of more than half of its councillors.


Amanda Spalding

Former GM’s legal case against council dismissed

The Federal Circuit Court has dismissed legal action taken against Hay Shire Council by its former General Manger Amanda Spalding.

Ms Spalding launched the legal action against council and five councilors after she was sacked in December 2018.

Council is currently recruiting a new permanent GM.

“The Mayor and the Councillors concerned are pleased with the outcome of the Federal Court’s ruling and are looking forward to continue working with Acting General Manager Kirstyn Thronder to deliver Council’s strategic plan for the betterment of the Hay Shire community,” council said in a statement.

Ms Spalding denied she had failed in her action and said she had agreed to settle. The court made orders to dismiss the action by consent, she said.

“The court order was by consent, the proceedings were dismissed by consent,” she told Government News. “The court has not been required to determine   the veracity of the allegations that I made and they made no findings on those allegations.”

Eds note: This item has been updated with comments from Ms Spalding.


Julie Bishop’s foray to private sector riles critics

Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has joined the board of global consultancy Palladium as a board director.

Julie Bishop

She joins a six-strong board of directors including Alonzo Fulgram, former Chief Operating Officer of USAID, and Ann Sherry, former senior civil servant and Executive Chairman and CEO of cruise ship operator Carnival Australia.

Ms Bishop said she hoped to be able to support the company’s efforts in social and economic development.

“Working with Palladium is a continuation of my long-standing interest in economic development in the Island nations of the Pacific and across the globe,” she said.

“Palladium has a focus on private sector engagement to deliver effective, sustainable development and even invests its own money into projects.”

However the former minister’s foray into the private sector has been widely criticised, with Labor saying the appointment breaches ministerial standards because it involved a company which had profited from decisions Ms Bishop made in office, a charge she denies.

The not-for-profit sector has also raised concerns about Palladium, saying it represents the privatisation and outsourcing of Australian foreign aid programs.


Graham Quirk joins racing board

Brisbane’s horse-loving former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has been appointed to the board of Racing Queensland to represent the thoroughbred industry.

Graham Quirk

Racing minister Stirling Hinchliffe said as a thoroughbred owner and breeder Mr Quirk brought a strong skill set to the role and came with the commercial focus needed to grow racing in the state.

“He’s a regular visitor to the races and is highly respected for his knowledge and understanding of the thoroughbred industry,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Mr Quirk is a great addition to the team at RQ, who will help to deliver the stronger commercial focus needed to grow and prosper Queensland’s racing industry.

Mr Quirk announced his retirement in March.


Qld Health director general retires

Queensland health is looking for a new director general following the retirement of Michael Walsh.

Health minister Steven Miles said Mr Walsh had advised him he would retire in September.

Mr Walsh, who oversaw the rollout of Queensland health’s ambitious ICT strategy, was heard saying in a recording obtained by the ABC last month that there were problems with the rollout including safety concerns, delays and software failures.

In January Mr Walsh referred allegations about a potential undeclared conflict of interest related to the Patient Administration System to the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

Mr Miles said Mr Walsh had left the state’s health system in a much better shape than when he was appointed in 2015.

“We have a world class, universal, free health system that all Queenslanders can be proud of, and Michael has been a big part of rebuilding that,” he said.


First Indigenous woman appointed to Victorian procurement board

Yorta Yorta woman Seona James has been appointed to a three-year term on the Victorian Government Purchasing Board.

Ms James was a member of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Board from April 2017 to May 2019 and established her own business, Indigenous Cultural Connections, in March 2018.

She has previously held positions at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Linfox Logistics Australia and Australia Post.

Ms Scott said she looked forward to having the opportunity to give voice to cultural considerations in procurement.

Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott said the appointment demonstrated the state government’s commitment to supporting Aboriginal business engagement in procurement.

“Seona James will enrich the Purchasing Board with her cultural knowledge, corporate know-how and deep connection to Victoria’s Aboriginal community,” he said.

Joining Ms James on the board are public servants Denise Dyer and Peter Lane.


Former OECD ambassador appointed CEO of Invest Victoria

Former Australian ambassador to the OECD Chris Barrett will head the body set up to attract investment and stimulate economic growth in Victoria.

Mr Barret has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Invest Victoria which was set up under the new Economic Development portfolio to support the Andrews Labor Government’s economic growth agenda.

Mr Barrett, the former Deputy Secretary of the DPC, was also Executive Director, Finance and Economics for the European Climate Foundation, which followed his role as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the OECD.


City of Melville farewells first ever female councilor

Former City of Melville councilor Alison Harris has been remembered as a trailblazer for women in local government following her death on July 2 after contracting pneumonia.

Ms Harris become Melville’s first ever female councilor when she was sworn in for the ward of Mt Pleasant in 1969.

She served until 1973 and made many contributions to local conservation including saving Heathcote, Wireless Hill, the Alfred Cove foreshore and Blue Gum swamp.

“While we have lost a wonderful community member and leader, the legacy Alison leaves as a former Councillor and particularly as a pioneer for all the women who came after her, Alison will always be remembered both in person and in the City of Melville’s history archives,” Mayor Russell Aubrey said.

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