From the Newsroom

Clarence Valley Council General Manager, Laura Black. Image: File photo

Split 5 – 4 vote endorses council GM’s pay rise

Rodney Stevens


Clarence Valley Council General Manager Laura Black will receive a 2 per-cent pay rise of approximately $7200 per year following a split vote 5 to 4 at an extraordinary meeting of council.

At the start of the meeting in the Grafton chambers on Thursday, February 15, General Manager Laura Black declared a pecuniary interest in the Mayoral Minute about her Performance Management Review and said she would be leaving the chamber.

The Mayoral Minute put forward by Peter Johnstone proposed that council:

  1. Note the Annual Performance Management report from the Performance Management Review Panel.
  2. Endorse the recommendation from the Performance Management Review Panel to award the General Manager a 2 per-cent performance pay rise under paragraph 8.3 of the Standard Contract of Employment for General Managers of Local Councils in New South Wales with the increase backdated to 7 October 2023.

The salary of Ms Black before the pay rise was endorsed by council was $342,696.93.

Mayor Peter Johnstone then said it had been suggested the meeting go into a confidential session on the basis of section 14.1 of the Code of Meeting Practice, as the meeting will be discussing personnel matters regarding particular individuals other than councillors.

Cr Karen Toms put forward a motion, which was seconded by Cr Debrah Novak, that council go into a confidential session to discuss the Mayoral Minute.

People in the public gallery at the meeting were then asked if they wanted to speak about why the meeting shouldn’t go into a confidential session, but nobody came forward.

Councillors then voted to go into a confidential session to discuss the General Manager’s Performance Review five votes to four, with Cr’s Ian Tiley, Greg Clancy, Jeff Smith, and Bill Day voting against.

When councillors returned from the confidential session, Cr Johnstone said the motion was carried five votes to four, with Cr’s Tiley, Clancy, Smith, and Day voting against.

In an interview on Loving Life FM 103.1 with Damien Fisher last Friday morning, Mayor Peter Johnstone explained the extraordinary meeting was originally called by four councillors (Cr’s Clancy, Day, Smith and Tiley) who put forward a motion which was withdrawn “at the last minute” so the only motion to consider at the meeting was the General Manager’s Performance Management Review.

The motion that was withdrawn was about matters concerning senior staff at council.

A rescission motion has been lodged against the decision to award the General Manager a pay rise, which will be heard at the Ordinary General Meeting on February 27.