Why have some councillors called a secret meeting at short notice?

ABOVE: Kyogle councillors : Back row : James Murray, Rob Cullen, Hayden Doolan. Middle row: Tom Cooper, Maggie May, John Burley. Front row: Mayor Kylie Thomas, Janet Wilson, Danielle Mulholland..Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Kyogle Council posted on its Facebook page on Friday that an extraordinary meeting would be held on Tuesday, April 26 at 3pm to consider the employment contract of the general manager.

That’s it. Nothing else, no explanation.

IndyNR asked the mayor, the previous mayor and the general manager whether the meeting would be open and Kyogle mayor Kylie Thomas said, “the meeting will go into closed session due to the confidential nature and under section 10a.2 – personnel matters”.

The public cannot attend this meeting.

The previous mayor and current councillor Danielle Mulholland said on Facebook that the following comments were from her personal perspective and that she was not speaking on behalf of the council in any way: “This extraordinary meeting to discuss the employment contract of the general manager, Graham Kennett, has been called by the mayor Kylie Thomas, at the request of councillors Cullen and May.  

“This extraordinary meeting was called whilst the general manager is on leave. I personally find this highly irregular, unprofessional and discourteous.

Ms Mulholland said in the previous term of the council, under the leadership of Graham Kennett, (with) fantastic business cases by the staff under his management and some serious advocacy work, a budget of over $200 million was delivered — the greatest amount ever delivered to the Kyogle Council area, of which only 12% comes from rates.

“I have become aware that people in the community are already talking about this issue (the meeting) which I find disturbing and perplexing because I was unaware of it until I received an email yesterday advising me that we were having this meeting,” Ms Mulholland wrote.

“I am currently concerned that all over social media … this meeting is being perceived to be about dismissing the general manager.”

“I can’t possibly see that this meeting is being called for that reason, given the success of the current general manager and the team he leads.  

“Even contemplating going forward without this general manager, who lives locally, has a proven commitment to our communities, has family in the community, and has dedicated over two decades of his professional life to improving the lives and conditions of people of the Kyogle Council area, would be exceedingly ill advised.  

“I can’t understand how getting rid of this general manager is in the best interests of the community…

“… and acting in the best interests of the community is supposed to be part of a councillor’s role.”

Ms Mulholland said Mr Kennett has been part of the council team that led the response during a drought, three major bushfires, flood, covid and the catastrophic floods of this year.  

“We are now confronted with an infrastructure repair bill in excess of $60 million and a two-year recovery phase if contractors and materials are available. What we need is consistency and stability, not unnecessary upheaval and chaos, especially at this challenging time.”

“It is, and continues to be, difficult to attract quality people to the general manager’s position in a small country town so I’m at a loss as to why we would even contemplate removing the most competent general manager I’ve ever met.  

“If rumour is to be believed, and this is in fact about terminating his contract, it will also cost you, the ratepayers, up to half a million dollars to pay out his contract.  These costs are going to come out of your pocket.  Is this what the residents and ratepayers really want?  I believe that such money could be better spent on services to our community and desperately needed infrastructure.”

“Contrary to rumour, the general manager has not asked for a pay rise of any kind.  Also contrary to rumour, he does not get paid $470,000 a year.”

IndyNR has asked all councillors for comment and we await their replies.

‘Nothing dodgy here’: Mayor offers ‘truth bombs’ about meeting on GM’s job

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