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Clarence Valley Mayor Ian Tiley says the continual erosion of council planning powers by the NSW government was a major concern. Image: CVC

Mayor’s ‘captain’s call’ guides new GM recruitment

Geoff Helisma


Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has commenced its search to replace general manager, Ashley Lindsay, who is currently on long service leave; his tenure concludes on October 7, 2022.

However, four councillors didn’t agree with the mayor’s motion at the April 26 CVC meeting.

Councillors Karen Toms, with back-up from Debrah Novak, were the most vocal in their opposition.

Councillors Jeff Smith and Allison Whaites voted with councillors Toms and Whaites.

The dissenting councillors opposed mayor Ian Tiley’s mayoral minute, which advocated Blackadder and Associates to administer the recruitment process.

“In my experience the best and most experienced consultant in recruitment of senior staff, especially in NSW but also across Australia and New Zealand, is Mr Stephen Blackadder of Blackadder and Associates,” Cr Tiley wrote in his minute, “whom I have used very successfully in the past.

“I propose to enlist his services for this recruitment.”

The mayor wrote, “Council, under the guidelines, should delegate to one person, generally the mayor, the tasks of ensuring:

  • The selection panel is established;
  • The general manager position description is current and evaluated in terms of salary to reflect the responsibilities of the position;
  • The proposed salary range reflects the responsibilities and duties of the position;
  • The position is advertised according to the requirements of the Act;
  • Information packages are prepared; and,
  • Applicants selected for an interview are notified.”

Councillor Toms said she had an “issue that we have to make a decision with a captain’s pick”.

She argued that it would be more “honest and transparent” to give “other organisations an opportunity” to do the job, advocating that “we need to go out to the market [for] quotes”.

Cr Toms said she was “not trying to be critical, just trying to be open and transparent”.

Cr Novak said she agreed with what “Cr Toms put forward”.

“This entire time that we’ve been elected, we’ve spoken about transparency and accountability,” she said, “I don’t know this person [Mr Blackadder] from bar of soap”.

During questions, Cr Toms asked why the 17-page Blackadder and Associates recruitment proposal had not been shared with councillors prior to the meeting.

Cr Tiley said, “it’s traditionally an issue between the mayor and the consultant”, however, he said he was “happy to disclose it at the workshop”.

Cr Novak asked, “Is it a legal process to solicit a business outside of the chamber?”

Cr Tiley, “I invite you to go and read the handbook and the mayoral minute.”

Cr Novak asked if the mayor if he “should declare a conflict of interest”.

Cr Tiley said it wasn’t a “professional working relationship” and, frustrated, said, “I don’t know what you are driving at.”

Cr Toms continued the line of questioning.

She said she “understands the reasons” for a “captains pick” but asked, “Is it unusual for a mayor to make that decision?”

Cr Tiley said, “I invite you to read the guidelines from 2011 by the Office of Local Government, some of which are in this report.”

Councillors Tiley, Clancy, Day, Johnstone and Pickering supported the mayoral minute, to “delegate to the mayor the tasks outlined … in the recruitment and selection guidelines”, and to “establish a selection panel comprising mayor, deputy mayor and two other councillors, at least one of whom must be female”.

The panel will select “at least two applicants to make presentations to the full council, which will select the successful applicant”.

Councillors allocated $30,000 to complete the recruitment, which is expected to cost “approximately $17,000”.

The mayor recommended “$30,000 to cover any ancillary costs”.

All councillors, when the time comes, will have a vote to select CVC’s next general manager, “from the best two (or perhaps three) applicants”, the mayoral minute stated, when they “make a presentation to full council”.