Maranoa Council votes on releasing other two plans
AS MARANOA Regional Council is on the cusp of approving a radically new organisational structure, one councillor has put forward a motion proposing more transparency to allow council staff to see two options that have been previously withheld from publication.
Three options for a major organisational re-structure to council operation have been handed down, however only one was presented to the staff members for feedback after a controversial vote on September 9.
The Western Star believes the only option released to staff was the one that would have council being run in a similar way to the smaller shires before 2008, with a director stationed in each major community.
Councillor Johanne Hancock expressed her disappointment during the ordinary meeting on November 25, saying that not all staff members saw all three potential options for this major restructure.
“It was clear from the response of our staff, that they felt that they would like to see three draft organisational structures that council had been working on for many weeks prior,” Cr Hancock said.
“It’s good to have something to compare with, so that you can make a really informed decision.
“I believe by releasing the three proposed draft organisational structures would provide a clear indication to the staff, that our feedback sessions is not just a ‘tip and flick’ from the councillors, that we do genuinely want to listen to their feedback, we do genuinely take their feedback on board, and that this is a genuine step to include the staff in the process of developing the new organisational structure.”
But mayor Tyson Golder, who has previously championed his preferred organisational restructure option, disagreed with Cr Hancock’s motion.
“I believe the decision that council is consulting staff on is the most important decision for council since amalgamation,” Cr Golder said.
“This consultation period, I believe was timed really well, with all staff available to come to a meeting in council time.”
He said staff had the option to provide confidential feedback which council could respond to.
“I also have had feedback from staff members when other changes have happened in the past, they have not been consulted like they have been now,” Cr Golder said.
Put them on the table
Councillors Wendy Taylor and Cameron O’Neil lent their support to Cr Hancock’s motion.
“I heard from the staff they wanted to hear all three options,” Cr Taylor said.
“I believe this is a long process and it should be dealt with very, very carefully and very slowly.”
She said that one of the comments taken up during the process was that people don’t know how the organisational structure works or what’s wrong with the current one.
Cr O’Neil said that people should have the opportunity to see what the other proposals are, whether or not they actually like them.
“We should be brave enough and have the intestinal fortitude to put faith in our staff,” Cr O’Neil said.
“I hear the mayor say that this process is now open and transparent.
“When there’s two options that have been discussed... for those not to go into consultation, that’s not open and transparent.
“I do think it’s in the staff interests that they see, I think that it’s in our interests that they see.
“There are no better experts in the delivery of council, than the staff that are employed.”
It could set this back months
Deputy mayor Geoff McMullen spoke in favour of the motion, saying there was a ‘very minimal number of people’ asking to see all three options.
Councillor Julie Guthrie thanked Cr Hancock for raising the motion and said there’s been lots of work done with the organisational restructure.
“We endorsed on 9 September, after many, many months of looking at information, there were three structures that were presented, one which was presented from the mayor,” Cr Guthrie said.
She said they need to be moving ‘forward, not backward’ with the proposal.
Councillor Mark Edwards is concerned about how long the process will go on if all three proposals are put on the table.
“Unity wants change and with this business of chopping and changing and coming back to three options, that sort of thing can just go on and on, and I’d personally would just like to proceed,” he said.
Councillor John Birkett said the consultation wasn’t an accurate representation of what the staff’s view, as only a small percentage attended the meeting.
The Mitchell-based councillor also said the proposed option is a step forward for the individual communities and smaller towns still hold onto their ‘old names’ (Booringa, Bendemere).
“There has to be a director in each area otherwise nothing will change,” Cr Birkett said.
“Dealing with the director in each area locally will address problems quickly and efficiently.”
Cr Hancock summed up saying it’s ‘not a numbers game’ and every staff members who asked to see all three proposals should be able to.
The motion was lost 3-6, with only Crs O’Neil, Taylor, and Hancock voting in favour.