Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bob Hawkins

Peter Gutwein, do your duty for the Huon …

*Peter Gutwein, from his website

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Peter Coad

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Adriana Taylor

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Simone Watson

Huon Valley Guessing Games So far, so good: Huon Valley Council’s nine elected members have been sacked by Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein; and General Manager Simone Watson has been disposed of by Commissioner Adriana Taylor.

They were the easy bits of what needs to be done to get local government in the Huon onto the rails. Each person had the authority to do what they did. Gutwein dilly-dallied for more than a year on the way to his councillor-sacking decision; but Taylor took less than a month to decide that Watson had to go.

Now, with the decks mostly cleared — HVC’s management structure requires close scrutiny — it is to be hoped that Gutwein will set in process the much more difficult task of getting to the bottom of why HVC has been such a dysfunctional failure since long before independent Peter Coad horrified council’s controlling Heart of the Huon team, in 2014, by beating its leader to the mayor’s job.

It shouldn’t be too hard for Gutwein to pull out the stops and get on with the job, but, Tasmanian politics being what it is, the great attraction must be to plump for the time-honed dust-under-the-carpet option.

Commissioner Taylor — former mayor of Glenorchy Council and, until earlier this year, a member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council — has made it patently clear that her riding instructions do not require her to look backwards. Her job, she says, it to restore community confidence in their local government — and for her, that means “looking forward”.

Sadly, she does not have the authority (perhaps she doesn’t want it) to take one action that would go a long way towards restoring the confidence for which she is striving. That action would be to seriously investigate the many allegations concerning HVC that Gutwein’s Board of Inquiry received when it began, just over a year ago, to find out why the council was dysfunctional. Taylor is firm: those complaints have no part in her brief from Gutwein.

What she has achieved in the first six weeks of her tenure is admirable, and I’m tempted to withdraw my “benign dictatorship” thought line ( http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/huon-councils-benign-dictatorship-cant-solve-its-serious-problems/show_comments/ ). However, I still believe the headline on that article was justified: her job as commissioner, constrained as it is by Gutwein’s instructions, is not to look under the carpet.

She told ABC Local Radio last week: “My job is really to make the council functional again, I suppose, but it’s also to restore community confidence in the council.” And, pointedly: “It’s not for me to make a judgment on who’s right and who’s wrong. That’s not what I’m here for.”

Determined to be seen to be “looking forward”, she told The Mercury that she had terminated Watson “for the good of the community”, and that “the community needs a clean start, and Simone needs a clean start”. Enigmatic perhaps best describes these comments.

None of this augurs well for anything but more of what Tasmania has been known for since it was settled more than a couple of centuries ago: turning its back on the past and “moving on”.

Taylor can hardly be blamed for not wanting to go near any of the stuff that many ratepayers and residents of the Huon believe is worthy of close analysis.

LET’S START with the departure of the GM. Mercury Online blared “sacked” on November 15, but soon that word was nowhere to be seen. There’s no doubt, however, Taylor had become convinced that Watson had to go. It would have helped if she had come up with something more specific than for the “good of the community”. What on earth does that mean? What might the “bad for the community” have been had Watson been allowed to stay?

Whatever the real grounds for her departure, the general manager has left the Huonville council offices with about $180,000 in her hand. (“Executive Manager Corporate Services” Wayne Thorpe appears to be this week’s “Acting General Manager”.)

Whoever it is that is running council’s “operations”, no one seems to be answering its mail. Several people wrote to council before the November 14 “special meeting”, at which Taylor officially decided Watson was finished, asking why the meeting had no published agenda. I wrote to HVC: “Council is advertising a Special Meeting of Council for Monday November 14, 2016. Would you please inform me of the Agenda topics?” I had not received a reply (or even acknowledgement of my email) by November 21

On November 16, I searched HVC’s website, in vain, for an announcement about Watson’s removal: nothing under “Media Releases”. I wrote to council asking why there was no release confirming, or explaining why, the GM had departed.

As of November 21, there was still no release explaining the departure of the GM, and I had yet to receive an acknowledgment of receipt of my inquiry, let alone an answer.

THERE ARE, however, signs that council management is no longer suffering a spell of catatonia. One sign of life is that — for the first time in more than two months — there are new releases on the HVC website (all dated November 17). One is particularly interesting, and a sensible move ( http://www.huonvalley.tas.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/HVC-Media-Release-Cygnet-Medical-Services.pdf ).

It calls for expressions of interest in leasing council’s Cygnet Medical Services building. Taylor has decided that this council-owned facility, built with federal funding and often dogged by administrative hiccups, is to be offered for privatisation. I doubt the centre has ever turned a dollar’s profit. More likely it has been a fairly hefty drain on council’s finances.

Before November 17, HVC appears to have done nothing it felt was worth telling the public about since September 2, the date of the previous media release. And that release — http://www.huonvalley.tas.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/HVC-Media-Release-BOI-petition-1.pdf — was yet another example of how incommunicative and secretive HVC has long been.

The release related to a petition asking for HVC’s submissions to the Board of Inquiry — including the Page Seager lawyers’ report — to be made public.

Despite Cr Liz Smith’s attempt to have the petition issue debated in open council at its August 31 meeting, the Heart of the Huon majority voted that it should remain exactly where GM Watson, for reasons hard to fathom, had decided — in closed council.

Though we are unlikely ever to see the minutes of that closed session, it is obvious that council voted to ignore the public’s request to be informed of the contents of documents ( presumably designed to counter the Board of Inquiry’s findings and make People’s Mayor Coad the fall guy for HVC’s hopelessness ) that cost us, the taxpayers, more than $54,000.

NOW BACK to last week. On ABC Local Radio on November 16, Taylor said: “My job is really to make the council functional again, I suppose, but it’s also to restore community confidence in the council.”

“Functional again”? Though council’s correspondence system doesn’t appear to be functioning, as I have said, there are signs that it’s getting some of its act together.

And that bit about “community confidence”? And answers that go on about “the good of the community”? All of these expressions are only going to leave more confusion than confidence in a community that’s still being kept in the dark.

This ratepayer wants to know exactly why Watson’s continuing presence in her job would not have been good for us. Though I believed it wasn’t doing me, or any of the valley’s other 15,000 residents, much good, I’d really like to be told by someone in the know exactly why that was so.

We don’t have Watson’s side of the story, but we do know that Taylor told the ABC’s Leon Compton that Watson hadn’t been thinking of leaving. Indeed, Taylor went to great lengths to stress that it wasn’t a sacking.

Compton: “Why did you dismiss the general manager?”

Taylor: “Umm, I didn’t dismiss the general manager. Let’s get this language . . . changed. I didn’t dismiss the general manager and I didn’t sack the general manager. What I did was I invoked a clause in the general manager’s contract that said I could terminate the contract — or council, not I — council could terminate the contract without reason, without cause, with 12 months’ notice. That’s what I’ve done. That’s very different from dismissing. If I had dismissed the general manager then there would be far different conditions and result, I think.”

Her decision on Watson, she said, had been to restore community confidence. The community had taken sides, and, with the councillors dismissed, some had been asking why the GM hadn’t also gone. Taylor said it wasn’t for her to make a judgment as to “who’s right and who is wrong”.

Compton: “Did the general manager want to leave her role?”

Taylor: “Ahh, no, well, I don’t think she had considered that. I think the general manager was genuinely trying very hard to work with me to restore community confidence and to continue to get the council back on track so to speak. So, no, it was my decision. Having said that, I think that it is — once I’d made the decision and we had the discussion — after that decision had been made, I think the general manager realised that it is a good opportunity for her to have a fresh start as well, because this has taken its toll on everybody in this community, including the general manager.”

Taylor said the decision that had been made was the “only choice I really had”. The only other option, she said, was for the general manager to continue to work her contract out for the next two years. And Taylor “just couldn’t see how I could, within a short time, restore community confidence in the council while that dispute within the community was still going on”.

That’s an argument with merit, but it’s not going to wash with everyone.

Compton: “While there was tension within the council — this was before the Government placed them in administration — Peter Coad, the former Mayor, was perpetually at loggerheads with the GM. It was happening for months before the council was dismissed. Many people in the community were trying to paint it as his problem. In fact, it was only in Parliament a number of months ago Peter Gutwein was saying what would fix the problem is if Peter Coad quit. Isn’t your dismissal of the general manager, or the decision for her to leave on your say-so, a vindication of his position?

Taylor: “I don’t think so at all. There will be people who are seeing it that way, I am sure. I don’t think this is a criticism if you like of, or an opinion on, what went wrong or what the disputes were. This is really about — my job is to look to the future, my job is to see that community confidence is restored in the council and that the council moves ahead and starts moving again, restoring business community confidence in the council. This is not about the past, this is about the future. That’s the best way, in my considered opinion, that this is the best way to actually start with a fresh sheet, I suppose, and say, well, you know, ‘Where do we go from here?’ There’s too much baggage. This is not a criticism of the general manager, or of the mayor, or of their disputes. This is about getting back on track . . .”

Though she lapsed into platitudes and cliche towards the end of her ABC interview — “looking forward”, “moves ahead”, “starts moving again”, “fresh sheet” — there’s no doubt that Commissioner Adriana Taylor is a breath of fresh air blowing through the valley. I haven’t heard a bad word about her, and she has been busy lending her ear to all around the valley and, by appointment, in her office. One might even imagine she’s earning her $180,000 salary.

Which has me wondering what the mostly publicly mute former HVC mayor Robert Armstrong had on his mind last week when, on the ABC and obviously hot under the collar, he called for her sacking.

Was he grumbling because he was sensing that the sadly flawed council he left behind him when he headed off to Tasmania’s parliamentary rest home for former mayors — the Legislative Council — was about to be reconstructed; or was he concerned that forensic drilling into HVC’s labyrinthine files could be imminent? Should that happen, who knows what sort of “dysfunction” might be exposed?

Armstrong (sounding very much like ex-councillor Mike Wilson, eternally but always unsuccessful mayoral aspirant and a strong Watson supporter) was peddling a simplistic formula for getting things back on track: the commissioner should be sacked; an acting general manager should be appointed; elections should be held; and, as in the way when he was mayor, the councillors should elect a general manager of their choosing.

Armstrong clearly doesn’t like the prospect of an outsider, in the form of Commissioner Taylor, being in charge of the appointment of a new GM — an authority she has in her role as the embodiment of nine councillors. God forbid! If it’s left to Taylor, she might even end up employing a well-qualified, seriously experienced, blow-in council CEO!

Those in the valley who believe that council’s procedures for the appointment of its past two GMs were flawed, are hoping that, when the next substantive GM moves in, the selection process not only will have been fair but will be seen to have been fair.

AS MUCH as many of us would like to see Taylor dig into the nitty-gritty of council’s files, it seems her riding instructions do not include the authority to pry into the council’s past.

But there are things she can do that would help persuade the public that a degree of even-handedness is at work.

For example, if a general manager can be removed for not doing anything wrong and pick up a year’s salary and entitlements of around $180,000, why shouldn’t the nine sacked councillors be treated the same way?

Sure, they proved to be a dysfunctional lot, but none of them to my knowledge has yet been found to have done any actual wrongdoing. And some of the ex-councillors worked their butts off to try to achieve good governance.

So, why not also pay them each a year’s salary plus entitlements? I doubt councillors have legal contracts, but they should certainly be entitled to reasonable redundancy terms. (By the way, I’m told one ex-councillor was seen the other day working with a council gang. Can’t confirm that one.)

AND WHAT about the huge legal bill People’s Mayor Peter Coad is facing. It’s a bill he ran up in the interests of (1) trying to fix council governance practices he perceived as, at best, less than adequate; and (2) to defend himself and his reputation as an experienced longtime senior public servant against abuse and unsubstantiated allegations from those who could not bring themselves to treat with respect a mayor who happened not to be always in agreement with them.

Many of us out here in the community have come to believe that, for example, while council doesn’t have a spare $80,000 to install a lift for the aged and infirm to Cygnet Town Hall’s Supper Room, it did find $80,000 to spend on an unwanted elevated section of boardwalk on the way to Cygnet’s sailing club; $54,000 on a legal report designed to dodge responsibility for management inadequacies identified by the Gutwein Board of Inquiry; thousands of dollars defending the indefensible — such as a wild scheme to put super-barges on the Huon at Waterloo Bay, and to manage to prevaricate for two years on a decision about an illegal, unapproved jetty at Franklin that just happened to be used for commercial purposes by a sitting councillor; and a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year on an under-utilised, questionably efficient, mechanised street-sweeper . . .

And what about a council lease that demands only an annual rental of one dollar and makes ratepayers pay the $1600 tax on the land on which the private business is operating?

And what about a council that blew $4 million in an investment gamble about 10 years ago yet prefers to “look forward”, “move on”, and forget that, properly invested, that $4 million today, even invested in low-interest fixed deposits, would have been worth probably $10 million? And, anyway, what was council doing with an idle $4 million sloshing around? And who got the commissions on the lost investment? All these questions, among others, need answers before it will be reasonable for the council to “move on”.

There are some things of a practical nature that Commissioner Taylor could do. For example, still unresolved is how, and by whom, was a copy of the “secret” Page Seager report leaked to 7HOFM. That was a leak that was clearly in the interests of those determined to do their utmost to put People’s Mayor Coad in a bad light. And, more recently, who — with the same objective — was it that leaked a copy of the same report to The Mercury?

Neither recipient of this “secret” document published very much that was in it. But both incidents were clearly designed to tarnish the image of a mayor whose only sin seems to have been to work to improve council’s governance, transparency and general openness with the community.

Read by itself, the Page Seager report, I believe, would reflect poorly on Peter Coad. Read in tandem with the findings and recommendations of the BoI report, it would make clear to discerning readers just how the Page Seager report turned on their heads a lot of the BoI findings, the intention being to make the mayor look like the villain of the piece.

I have always been convinced that Coad, when he moved into his job as mayor in November 2014, found a situation that — based on his three decades of experience at public service boardroom level — convinced him fairly quickly that good governance was not an HVC strong suit.

NOW TO allegations that can’t be specified because, uninvestigated and unproved, those who make them could put themselves in line for writs.

All of these allegations, I would imagine, must by now be with Minister Gutwein and the Local Government Division. So, if Gutwein will not direct his HVC commissioner to look backward and start wading through the files and questioning present and former council staff, it is his duty (if he is not already doing it) to direct his officers to get to work considering the allegations — by analysing them themselves or handing them on to the appropriate authorities.

A few subject headings: Asbestos. Entrapment. Leasing. Jetty. Bullying. Compliance. Credit cards. Appointments . . .

And questions such as the following I believe are worthy of consideration by Gutwein’s office. Will it:

— Investigate the circumstances that resulted in a council management report asserting, in papers made available to the public, that Mayor Peter Coad was guilty of 15 instances of non-compliance with Gutwein’s June 15 Ministerial Direction 3 to HVC?

— Investigate the circumstances that resulted in an alleged delay of several years between HVC being informed about broken asbestos in the Cygnet Town Hall and council’s dealing with it?

— Inquire what role, if any, a councillor had in the appearance, without permit, of a jetty on the Huon, which then continued to operate for about two years in an “illegal and unapproved” (the words of HVC executive Matthew Grimsey) state?

— Investigate the circumstances in which a camping ground was leased, on two occasions, to a family that has/or had friendly ties with a councillor, and, on one of those occasions, to a sitting councillor?

— Confirm or deny that a matter relating to HVC has been referred to the Tasmanian DPP?

— Inquire why the mayor was virtually isolated from negotiations that led to the privatisation of the management of the Geeveston Town Hall?

— Investigate events surrounding a bridge at Dover?

IF THERE is no serious examination of the many complaints that have been registered relating to Huon Valley Council, one can only conclude that a serious process of sweeping everything under the carpet is in process. — Bob Hawkins

*Bob Hawkins has been covering Huon Valley Council for Tasmanian Times since early 2009. He is a long-time friend of former councillor Liz Smith, and an admirer of People’s Mayor Coad for doggedly trying to bring reason to a dysfunctional council.

• Reg Maxwell in Comments: I agree with most of what Bob says and I definitely agree that someone must act on the BoI recommendations which cost we ratepayers a lot of our scarce money; if it is not to be done by the Commissioner then Minister Gutwein please tell us whom you intend to get on to it and how soon it will be done. This is an important matter that will continue to fester for years unless it is cleaned up in a transparent manner, so don’t leave it to be dealt with by our next elected Council members. Next, the selection of a replacement for Watson. This must be a completely transparent process so it ought to be done by one of the several Executive Recruitment firms with broad experience in the selection of Local Authority executives …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: #9 John, none of us out here in ratepayer land have any idea of the quality of the PS report because it’s still “secret”. It’s been seen only by those few who, by law, must see it — and, of course, conveniently leaked to those whose knowledge of it (7HOFM and The Mercury) was likely to help the cause of those who wanted the dysfunction blamed entirely on the People’s Mayor. The PS report might be, for all I know, a brilliant piece of legal sleight of hand that made council management and the Heart of the Huon only too happy to hand over $54,000 of taxpayers’ money to promote their cause rather than that of what I regard as the few who make up the forces for good governance.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Swan

    December 8, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    #15 I can now confirm the exact comment from Commissioner Taylor at the November 30th Council meeting, following a public question about the recent employment of ex Deputy Mayor Ian Paul onto Council staff within a few days of his dismissal as a Councillor.

    “And I can assure you that there is no cronyism going on in this Council as from now …”

    I can also advise I received an email copy from HVC the day after I posted #15 (good to see HVC staff are reading TT) which included a copy of the ad that was placed in the Huon News.

    The position to which Mr Paul has been appointed is Multi Skilled Field Worker in the Parks and Reserves Unit for a maximum term of 6 months full time.

    This position was advertised in the Huon News on Wednesday 19 October 2016, as well on Council’s website from October 18 to October 26 2016.

  2. Geoffrey Swan

    November 30, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    #14 This is confirmed.

    According to HVC Council meeting this week ads were placed in Huon News (I am looking to find), the HVC website and seek.com.

    There were several applicants and he was chosen as the best candidate.

    And a refreshing comment from our new Commissioner when said “there will be no cronyism in this council from now on”.

    I might need to correct the phrasing slightly once I hear the audio record from the meeting when it is posted next week)

  3. The Insider

    November 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I hear that the ex deputy mayor has a job with Huon Council in Parks.

  4. Robin Charles Halton

    November 23, 2016 at 10:19 am

    #7 Geoffrey you state “we need Ms Taylor to look back before she can effectively be moving foward”.

    Exactly as I have already stated to uncover all transactions between council and the outside world to the ratepayers.

    Although I am a strong forestry supporter of sustainable forestry that favors the harvest higher quality forest products over a longer cycle, not entirely a Ta Ann type of operation that is currently allowed to maintain employment levels, never the less forestry has always been a part of the local economy and should have its place based on sound forest management.

    What I cannot follow is the Huon Barges concept where HVC would have thrown money at the study using the Waterloo site intended for loading of forest and gravel products.

    There would have to be a complete lack of intelligence by council to have ever agreed to dream of going down this path when the Port of Hobart just up the road at Macquarie Point was at the time used as an export wharf for whole logs considered as “out spek”!

    HVC talking with the HCC and the State government should have delivered a favorable result at the time of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement had Premier Giddings been on the ball, instead she favored the Greens and the TFA delivered a great balls up for forestry instead for which the current Minister for Forests Guy Barnett is determined to unravel.

    Currently the time is ripe with a supportive Liberal government and a far reaching Hobart Mayor who can see beyond the clouded inward views of those anti everything bodies who are now losing ground State wide.

  5. Robin Charles Halton

    November 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    The current HVC investigation could serve for the public as a leading example of has gotten wrong continues to get worse as the community don’t have the power to look into the underlying council business that is never made open, even to a game changer such as Peter Coad as the people’s choice for Mayor.

    It takes only 120 votes in Coad’s favor over Wilson to make the difference between alleged decades of cover ups by certain elected members of the Council and the administration who may have been coerced into these positions as well.

    Interesting to see the details of how the ugly big shed now the Huon Community Sports centre that was previously owned by Michael Wilson ended up being purchased by the HVC.

    Drove past it after attending the recent Huon Show, looks a bit neglected externally with an unfinished paint job of duck egg blue.

  6. Steve

    November 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Whilst I can appreciate the positive nature of looking forward, I can’t help but quote George Santayana; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

    In my possibly futile efforts to broaden my mind, I’ve been reading some Santayana recently. It’s surprising how apt someone from half a world could be when it comes to Tasmania!

    Off topic but how about: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim” ….I’m a lumberjack, I’m OK….

  7. Bob Hawkins

    November 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    #9 John, none of us out here in ratepayer land have any idea of the quality of the PS report because it’s still “secret”. It’s been seen only by those few who, by law, must see it — and, of course, conveniently leaked to those whose knowledge of it (7HOFM and The Mercury) was likely to help the cause of those who wanted the dysfunction blamed entirely on the People’s Mayor. The PS report might be, for all I know, a brilliant piece of legal sleight of hand that made council management and the Heart of the Huon only too happy to hand over $54,000 of taxpayers’ money to promote their cause rather than that of what I regard as the few who make up the forces for good governance.

  8. john hayward

    November 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Still baffling me is how Page Seager came to be included over the top of the BoI. Having briefly dealt with them myself in a forestry matter some years ago, I am not surprised by the quality of their report, however.

    John Hayward

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    November 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    #6 Leveller, I take it you are referring to the Brighton Army Camp site where I attended Army cadets training in the mid 60’s and later with the CMF in the early 70’s!

  10. Geoffrey Swan

    November 21, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    #3 You need a Bob Hawkins type bloke in your shire who without fear or favour is prepared to provide running commentaries on the happenings in the Brighton Council.

    I am relatively new to the goings on in the Huon Valley but people like Bob and others have been attending every Council meeting since Adam was a boy and informing others about the happenings as best as information allows.

    It is my view the HVC now has a commissioner in place only because we had a Mayor (Peter Coad) who was prepared to stand up against the … lack of transparency, and because he had the support of a number (silent ones and vocal ones) in the community who were not prepared to stand back and let all the … nepotism and deals keep on happening.

    Our major concern now is as Bob has detailed in this piece – we need Ms Taylor to look back before she can be effective moving forward.

    The BOI and the Page Seager report are an excellent starting point and I believe the Community will not rest until these are investigated in full.

  11. Leveller

    November 21, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    “NO TENDER WINDFALL FOR LENNON” THE AUSTRALIAN
    FORMER Tasmanian Labor premier Paul Lennon could earn $750,000 for consultancy work on an affordable housing project but has so far not had to compete in open tender. Brighton Mayor Tony Foster yesterday confirmed to The Weekend Australian that Mr Lennon’s company was granted a key consultancy role on the $300 million project without it going to public tender. Under the council’s procurement guidelines ­­ and the terms of an agreement under which the state has donated $1.6m worth of public land for the project ­­ work above $100,000 must go to public tender. Mr Foster confirmed that Mr Lennon’s company Paramul Pty Ltd was to be paid $2500 per house and land package sold under the Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation project. He confirmed up to 300 blocks would be sold under the project over a period of up to 10 years. This means that should Mr Lennon retain the consultancy role on the same terms throughout the project, he would receive $750,000. Mr Foster said the arrangement was not put out to public tender because it related only to the first stage of the project, which was just 26 blocks. This first stage would net Mr Lennon $65,000 ­­ under the $100,000 level that triggers the need for a public tender. “At the moment the process is 26 houses in stage one, so that keeps it under the need for us to go to tender,” Mr Foster said. “Once stage one is sold, if the next stage is going to put it above $100,000, then we will go to tender.” The council yesterday advised the state government that Mr Lennon had so far received $20,000 for “management services, marketing, modelling, organising loans and builders”. Mr Foster said Mr Lennon had significant costs to meet out of his fee and that the council believed it was getting “value for money”. He rejected any suggestion that the failure to require Mr Lennon to compete in open tender for the work was not in keeping with the spirit of the tender requirements. “I guess people can read into it whatever they want, but . . . this is stage one ­­ he is looking after stage one for us, at $2500 per house that’s sold,” he said. “There is nothing untoward happening; Lennon is not going to make a fortune out of it.” Mr Lennon has previously said he expects to receive $20,000 to $30,000 a year from the project over a five­to­eight­year period ­­ at least $100,000. State Liberal housing spokeswoman Jacqui Petrusma said it appeared Mr Lennon was to receive a “windfall” at the expense of low­income earners seeking housing. “This whole thing stinks ­­ it is, after all, low­income Tasmanians who are paying for this: if Mr Lennon were not receiving the apparent $2500 per block sold, the land would be selling for $47,500 per block, not $50,000,” Ms Petrusma said. Mr Lennon could not be contacted late yesterday.

  12. CivicWindow

    November 21, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    This is a good summary of the past and recent events.
    If the undesirable events of the past are not to be repeated, they need to be analysed, publicized and discussed.
    This “looking forward” will not produce a nice future if we fall into the same potholes as we did in the past. The past problems need to be identified, and methods of avoiding them need to be developed.
    The BOI recommendations should be fully addressed. They contain much wisdom, and should not be wasted.
    Major factors are:- transparency, and avoiding conflict-of-interest.

  13. Reg Maxwell

    November 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    I agree with most of what Bob says and I definitely agree that someone must act on the BoI recommendations which cost we ratepayers a lot of our scarce money; if it is not to be done by the Commissioner then Minister Gutwein please tell us whom you intend to get on to it and how soon it will be done. This is an important matter that will continue to fester for years unless it is cleaned up in a transparent manner, so don’t leave it to be dealt with by our next elected Council members.

    Next, the selection of a replacement for Watson. This must be a completely transparent process so it ought to be done by one of the several Executive Recruitment firms with broad experience in the selection of Local Authority executives. It will cost some money to do it that way, but not nearly as much as getting the wrong person in the job …

    Speaking of that, I would have thought that there might be sufficient material in the BoI Report concerning her apparent failure to satisfactorily carry out certain aspects of her duties as GM to enable a negotiated resignation at a lesser cost to ratepayers than a year’s salary. However, I suppose that was the easiest way out of a bad situation.

  14. Leveller

    November 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Brighton Council has been in turm-oil with all the jobs for the boys, contracts for mate’s rate’s and still nothing has been done. They ignore the Local Government Act 1993 and also the Right to Information Act 2009. All the executive salaries, executive vehicle’s, overseas business and first class travelling is ripe. Minister Gutwein MP and the Premier are aware of all the issues going back 25 year’s but still no investigation what so ever. What ever happened to OPEN DISCLOSURE, ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY for the use of Rate-Payer’s “Public Monies” and those in “Public Office” doing the right and honest thing by their “elector’s” us the COMMUNITY?. Mean while us the Community suffer’s while the rich and powerful get richer and us the Community get’s poorer.

  15. Mark Temby

    November 21, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Perhaps I’m looking at this whole process too simplistically. Coad was largely voted into the mayoral role on a ticket of improved governance. There were other matters like community consultation and development in the SW, but largely governance.

    Adriana Taylor’s role is to place HVC on a firm foundation of improved governance into the future. Part of this will be a separation between Council governance and the administration wing.

    It seems to me Coad and Taylor are beating the same drum, singing from the same song sheet or just plain birds of feather. While I sympathise with the call for righting past wrongs, recognising the most serious items should be addressed through a proper inquiry, the future of HVC still remains in service sharing and potential amalgamation. This is governance. This is efficiency in service delivery. This is professionalism. This is asset management. This is human resource management.

    Where Gutwein really fails as Minister is turning a blind eye to the future.

  16. Scott

    November 21, 2016 at 9:36 am

    (Comment challenged and deleted)

    Second with regards to the media blackout from HVC are there not persons employed as media staff?

    It also seems logical to me that after dismissal of council the General Manager should also go as blame on dysfunction can not be apportioned to just one side.

    Let’s hope the new General Manager when appointed can work with the Commisoner until such time a new council (old members please take a holiday during the next election period) and the Huon Valley can be reinvigorated once again.

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