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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Remnants of autocracy face final days

The Eurobodalla Council, under the previous terms of councillors, allowed the then-general manager to downplay the importance of having a dedicated Director of Finance, with the previous Director of Finance, resigning in February 2020 to take on a position elsewhere. The previous Director of Finance, Anthony O'Reilly, was described by Eurobodalla Council before he left as: As the Director of Corporate and Commercial Services and as part of the Executive Leadership Team of Eurobodalla Shire Council, Anthony's role involved full coverage of Council's finance functions including Financial, Management and Revenue areas, and Governance, encompassing Privacy, Insurance and Risk Management. Corporate Services such as Property, Information Technology, Customer Service and Records and the operation of the shires Botanic Gardens and the Batemans Bay Beach Resort also all reported to Mr O'Reilly. In 2020 Hilltops Council said in a media release announcing Mr O'Reilly's appointment: "Anthony has impressive academic qualifications – a Master of Local Government from the University of Technology Sydney, a Master of Dispute Resolution (Honours) from the University of Technology Sydney, a Bachelor of Business from the University of Western Sydney, and he is a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Practising Accountant awarded by CPA Australia" With Mr O'Reilly gone the responsibility of the day to day financials, the reports and the overall budgeting came under the then-general manager and was handed down the line to delegated staff to deal with. There were many issues of concern around this decision voiced by the public in regards to governance, transparency, reporting and protocols but the councillors of the day were either "smoke and mirrored" that everything was OK or were simply too inept or lazy to demand a new Director of Finance be put in place. It was during this time that respect and trust for the council arrived at an all time low. The relationship between council and its community became toxic and the veil of secrecy that shrouded the Council decisions and accountability only added to the mire. This was assisted by taking direct control of the communications section in order to micromanage the narrative that was being delivered. It was during this era that the public were systematically locked out of voicing their concerns as the rules around Council's Code of Meeting practice, live streaming of Public Forum, and the demand that all presentations to Council be delivered 24 hours ahead.

Note that the organisational structure is the realm of the General Manager and the previous one, for what ever reason, seem to consider that the vacancy of a Director, replaced by less qualified staff under direct control, was good enough to run a $100 million plus organisation. Anecdotally there were so many issues with this; issues that have remained behind closed doors, that have gone unreported. But a new day is here with a new General Manager. On Tuesday 14th February 2023, at the Council meeting in Moruya, a recommendation will be made to reinstate that position saying: "The organisation structure must facilitate the delivery of services to achieve the Operational Plan actions. The proposed new structure is designed to provide the leadership and management of appropriately grouped services which currently work across directorates to enable improved and effective delivery of services for our community. The aim is to also ensure the structure of the organisation aligns with the priorities of the Community Strategic Plan, Delivery Program, Operational Plan and Resourcing Strategy. It is considered that the four Directorate structure proposed aligns with these strategies." The Directorate, Finance and Corporate Services includes the following functional areas: - Finance - Information Technology - Governance - Fleet Management - Procurement/Stores - Insurance - Integrated Planning and Reporting - Government Information Public Access (GIPA) - Customer Service and Records The Director, Finance and Corporate Services will report to the General Manager and supports the delivery of activities and actions in the Delivery Program 2022-26. While preparing for the recruitment process an Acting Director will be appointed to help in the establishment of the framework for the new Division and the component parts. This will be finalised by the new Director in due course.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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