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Tensions mounting cover Council CEO contract

Councillors warned contract negotiations with CEO 'in confidence'

LIBBY PRICE July 30, 2014 3:30am

Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 24/10/2012 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 20/11/2013 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 24/10/2012 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 4/12/2013 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 24/10/2012 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 20/11/2013 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 24/10/2012 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.Benalla Ensign on 2/11/2011 CAPTION: Benalla Rural City CEO Tony McIlroy.


Benalla Rural City Council has refused to openly discuss its plans to renew the contract of chief executive officer Tony McIlroy without first advertising the position, arguing that it is entirely appropriate for these considerations to be held in-confidence.

Instead, the council has appointed a CEO Employee Matters Advisory Committee to provide advice on what options are available. The committee is believed to include Melbourne Municipal Association consultant Philip Shanahan who is one of Victoria’s most experienced local government advisors.

As reported in last week’s Ensign, Benalla Rural City Council is seeking legal advice on whether it can rescind a resolution made two years ago by the previous council, to advertise the position of chief executive officer when the current contract ends in December. Chief executive officer Tony McIlroy signed the contract in late 2011 which included a clause that the position be advertised at the expiry of the contract.

Mr McIlroy has held the position since 2003.

The Ensign asked all seven councillors, including the mayor, whether or not they thought the job should be re-advertised or if they supported trying to rescind that part of the contract; and if so, why?

All councillors were advised to leave any comments to Mayor Barbara Alexander.

But Cr Peter Davis believes it is a major problem that the issue has been dealt with in confidential business.

‘‘It shouldn’t be in confidential business, due to the fact that there is a Notice of Motion on the books in regard to this matter. And what are we doing? We are communicating behind closed doors again and making decisions that we as councillors think we know better than the voice of our ratepayers.’’

Mayor Barbara Alexander disagreed.

‘‘Contractual and employee matters are always dealt with in-confidence,’’ Cr Alexander said.

‘‘It is a breach of the Local Government Act for me, or any other councillor, to publicly divulge the matters under consideration. There are severe penalties for breaches of this nature.

‘‘Equally, discussing these matters publicly would betray the trust any employee, in any organisation, should have in their employer to follow proper process around the employee’s employment future.’’

Cr Davis is about to go on holidays and has concerns the contract will be renewed in his absence.

‘‘I’m a lone soldier at the moment regarding this issue. I was on the last council when Tony’s contract was renewed. I am aware of the procedure that needed to be undertaken for the appointment of a chief executive officer — the procedure being, that the postion was expected to be advertised at the completion of his extended two-year term mid-way into the term of our new councillors,’’ he said.

‘‘It was ratepayers who appointed me to council and my role on council is to be open and transparent. My job is to look after the ratepayers and I believe not honouring contracts is not the right way of doing business,’’ Cr Davis said.

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