Tuesday 28 July 2009

Councillor Forsyth backs change in committee chairs

Following last week's dumping of Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake as chair of the prestigious Finance and Administration committee, first-time Councillor Forsyth wants the roles to be rotated more often, so that others get a chance to fulfil the key roles.

"As most people who ask me would be aware, I have consistently advocated the position that all Councillors, if they wish, should have an opportunity to Chair a standing Committee," Diane Forsyth told CairnsBlog.

"I believe this will enhance Councillors knowledge and understanding of the workings of Council in particular areas," Forsyth says. "Whilst I can only speak for myself, I believe I have the necessary skills and experience to take on the responsibility of chairing a Council standing committee."

Forsyth declared her interest in both the Works and Services, and also Sports, Arts, Culture and Community Services committees, however failed to gain majority to be elected by her peers. She had the support of five of her colleagues.

"I would also support a second change-over of chairs in approximately 15 months to allow all councillors, who wish to have a go, a chance to chair a Council standing committee," Diane Forsyth said.

Although the Cairns Post Council reporter Thomas Chamberlin wrote on Friday the embattled Councillor Blake "stepped aside as finance chairman", no such thing happened.

The over-whelming majority of Councillors simply lost faith in Blake, after it was exposed about his involvement in spreading information about a deal done with Radio 4CA, in an attempt to embarrass Mayor Val Schier. There is also wide dis-satisfaction around Councillors and senior Council staff about his improper and innapropriate connection with Council's Corporate Communications Manager Kerie Hull.

Hull has been shunted aside from her job over the 4CA affair, and not been welcome back at the office, whilst the terms of her dismissal are completed. Both sides have expended substancial amount in legal costs.

Blake understood that he was not welcome in the role any longer and had lost support. It simply wasn't worth his dwindling credibility to seek a further term as committee chair.

The Cairns Post reporting about the dumping of Councillor Blake as committee chair wnent largely unreported. It was twisted into a story about the Mayor's so-called, lack of transparency. It's important to record that every one of the committee chairs, retained their role, beside Cr Alan Blake. The announcement by the Cairns Post about Blake's dumping and lack of confidence by the majority of Councillors, read like a pathetic press release:
  • "Cr Blake, who held the position for more than eight years, has been commended in the past for developing the independent rates relief tribunal and retiring debt. Earlier this month he indicated he would step aside to allow for a more junior councillor to take the position.

Councillor Forsyth also wants to see the role of Deputy Mayor shared with other Councillor during the term.

"I believe that the position of Deputy Mayor should also be shared, and opened up half-way through the term, to give another Councillor the opportunity to take on the Deputy Mayors role," Diane Forsyth said.

Councillor Kirsten Lesina also agrees with the suggestion, and is keen to contest one of the committee chair roles next time.

It is understood that the chairs of committees will again go to the Council for vote again in early 2011.


Ross Parisi said...

The suggestion that Committee chairperson are rotated is a admirable suggestion and should be heeded by other Councillors.

No one has a mortgage on Council positions including that of the Deputy Mayor. The only position that is people appointed is that of the Mayor.

Council administration should not only be a partnership with its residents but one between Councillors as well.

It is a perfect way for all concerned to gain experience and understanding of the working of the Council Bureaucracy and the expectations of the residents.

Furthermore, I believe for the sake of continuity a Deputy Chairperson could be elected for each Committee and that person then becomes the next Chairperson.

Recalcitrant Councillors of course would be excluded from this process. A subtle application of a code of behaviour.

Council Watcher said...

I totally agree with Ross. Cr Forsyth is to be commended for voicing this. To walk a mile in someone elses shoes for a specified term will give a greater understanding of the responsibilities, issues and problems of the council as a whole and can only lead to respect for each others position. It may also be an idea to have each councillor spend an occasional week as 'the mayor' to give a deeper understanding of that responsibility. In all it could only enhance respect and further knowledge.