31 January 2017

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State, shire recognise service with awards THE Mornington Peninsula was well represented in this year’s Australia Day Honours List, which recognised almost 200 Victorians among 958 people from various industries and communities around the country. Among the recipients from the peninsula were Denis Baguley, AM; Heath Davidson, OAM; Garry Moncrieff, Emergency Services Medal; Brendan Woodsell (formerly of HMAS Cerberus, Crib Point), OAM; Andrew Niven Creek, OAM; and Carmel O’Brien, OAM. Mornington Peninsula Shire announced its 2017 Australia Day Award winners at Rosebud Memorial Hall on Thursday, with Rye mother Bianca Appleford named as Citizen of the Year for her work in the area of autism. A new award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to Rye resident Barry Irving, who was nominated for his community involvement in many areas. Young Citizen of the Year and Mt Martha resident, Stephanie Byrnes, 24, has been a full-time volunteer at Fusion Mornington Peninsula since January 2015. Dedicated to making a difference, she lives alongside young people who are experiencing homelessness in Fusion’s supported accommodation services. In addition to her on-site living, Ms Byrnes mentors young people as part of the Fusion support program. Community Event of the Year, the About Kids’ Fun Run with the K163 steam train is a partnership between Mt Eliza Rotary Club and Mornington Railway Preservation Society. The inaugural fun run last year raised $19,550 for Frankston Hospital’s paediatric unit to buy five children’s beds. The Bravery Award went to Ben Brunton and Edward Fuggle, both 14, who were volunteering at the Rye Yacht Club’s Discover Sailing Day when a jet ski rider was stranded offshore in rough weather. Both boys rushed to the rescue and helped signal the Rye Yacht Club safety boat. Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Bev Colomb said the Australia Day Awards “inspire us to make our own contribution to creating a better Mornington Peninsula”. Liz Bell

Citizen award winners: from left, Edward Fuggle, Stephanie Byrnes, Barry Irving, Kids’ Fun Run with K163 representative Bernie Edwards, Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Bev Colomb and Ben Brunton.

Power play over CEO’s contract Keith Platt keith@mpnews.com.au A POWER struggle has developed between one of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s newly-elected councillors and its CEO Carl Cowie. Although Mornington Peninsula Shire’s CEO is the only officer directly hired by councillors, Cr David Gill says he is being denied access by Mr Cowie to the contract under which he operates. Cr Gill says he asked Mr Cowie – who is paid more than $380,000 a year – for a copy of his work contract “because Carl has made it clear that the shire councillors employ him and he employs the rest of our shire staff”. “However, the answer to me [for his contract] was no.”

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire CEO Carl Cowie at this week’s Australia Day ceremony. Picture: Yanni

Cr Gill also wants to know what KPIs (key performance indicators) are being used to measure Mr Cowie’s performance.

Elected to represent Red Hill ward last October, Cr Gill believes eight former councillors and three sitting councillors have copies of the CEO’s contract “and I can’t see why the new councillors don’t”. “He’s the one who’s made a song and dance about us [councillors] employing him and no one else. “We employ him and we should all have the contract.” Cr Gill told The News that a councillor/staff relations policy “confirms that councillors even talking to staff is controlled by [Mr Cowie]”. A page of the “Councillor and staff interactions policy” seen by The News limits the number of staff as “points of contact to councillors” to 12, including Mr Cowie, the chief financial officer, chief operating officer, communica-

tions and media manager and governance manager. Apart from the 12 officers listed in the policy, staff are told to “refer the matter to your manager” if contacted by a councillor. The policy states that it is aimed at “ensuring that risks associated with improper or undue influence are mitigated”. It “defines potential, perceived and actual improper or undue influence or direction by councillors of staff”. “I figure that democratically elected local government councillors should have access to the work contract of the one officer that we employ on behalf of our community,” Cr Gill said. “The next time we hear about council transparency and accountability perhaps it would be fair to reach for a

grain of salt.” Although only positions are named, the salaries of the shire’s top executives are listed close to the end of voluminous the 2015/16 annual report. A table of “responsible officers” lists one person as earning $380,000 - $389,999. Earlier in the annual report the Councillor Code of Conduct (adopted 6 June 2016) is described as providing “a framework for ethical and professional behaviour of councillors in the range of interactions between councillors, council staff and the public”. There are no rules controlling councillors speaking to the media. Councillors will review the code of conduct in coming months. The shire did not respond by deadline.

Southern Peninsula News

31 January 2017