Tri-administrators welcomed for beleaguered Geelong council

By The Mandarin

May 24, 2016

City of Greater Geelong’s interim administrator Yehudi Blacher is being replaced with three slightly more permanent administrators who will stay on until the next council elections.

This concludes the state’s role in the sacking of Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons (pictured) and the rest of the council. That decision followed whistleblowing of conflict and bullying uncovered by local media reports and documented in an independent report by Terry Moran.

Victorian Local Governance Association welcomed the appointment of a panel of three administrators in Geelong, concerned about the impact of uncertainty around a return to democracy.

“This is by far preferable to having the single administrator which Geelong has had to date,” VLGA present Councillor Sebastian Klein said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is important that these individuals understand the role and tasks before them. They now represent a community of some 200,000 residents and countless business and community groups. Likewise, it’s important that they participate in the broader conversation occurring within the local government sector.”

The VLGA expects the Andrews government to consult widely and work with the sector rather than against it, as it prepares for the next council elections in October 2017.

* * * * *

Below is the release from the Victorian government:

The Andrews Labor Government has appointed three administrators to run the City of Greater Geelong in place of the council, which was dismissed in April.

The council was dismissed following a three-month investigation by an independent Commission of Inquiry into its governance, administration and culture.

The Commission of Inquiry concluded that the council was dysfunctional, unable to provide long-term vision for the city and riddled with internal conflict and a culture of bullying.

The administrators are:

  • Dr Kathy Alexander (Chair): an experienced CEO, board director and consultant and former City of Melbourne CEO for more than six years. Dr Alexander was CEO of Women’s and Children’s Health, which governed the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and the Royal Women’s Hospital (RWH). Dr Alexander is a former South Australian Telstra Businesswoman of the Year and chair of not-for-profit organisations. As Chair she will fulfil the role of Mayor.
  • Peter Dorling: business manager at Avalon Airport, a director of the Victorian Regional Panels Authority, a member of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre Trust and the former executive director of the Committee for Geelong. He has considerable experience providing strategic planning and leadership for the Geelong community. He will cease to be the chair of the Geelong Authority.
  • Laurinda Gardner: former senior government executive and experienced member of not-for-profit, state and local government boards. Ms Gardner is currently the Deputy Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Authority and also works as a leadership and change management consultant.

The panel takes over from interim administrator Yehudi Blacher, who has been working with the CEO and staff since the council was dismissed.

The administrators will now work to implement the full range of recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry into Greater Geelong City Council that are required to remedy longstanding cultural, governance and structural problems.

They will remain in place until the next council elections are held in October 2017.

Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins said in the statement:

“The appointment of the administrators is about returning good governance to the people of Geelong and a safe working environment to council staff.”

“Geelong deserves to have a competent and productive elected council, but first the administrators must get in and fix the serious problems the Commission of Inquiry uncovered.”

“I thank the interim administrator Mr Yehudi Blacher for stepping in and supporting the Geelong community during this critical time.”

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