Chaos in Ku-ring-gai Council Prior to Council Elections

Since the September 21st when new Mayor Cedric Spencer was installed as Mayor after a tied 5-5 vote was resolved by his name drawn from a box, no effective Council meetings have been held.

Within days of the new Mayor taking up his position, two of his supporting councillors, Christine Kay and Peter Kelly, called for an Extraordinary meeting with the sole agenda of reviewing the contract of the General Manager, Mr McKee. This is despite the fact that less than 2 months earlier his contract was renewed and his performance rated as ‘More than Satisfactory’ by ten councillors and supported by an independent consultant’s report.

This action was an unnecessary aggravation just weeks before Council was to go into caretaker mode and resulted in five councillors not attending the meeting ensuring no minimum meeting quorum, requiring 6 councillors, for a resolution was available. With the Mayor’s extra vote to break a tied vote, the General Manager’s position would have been terminated.

Mayor Spencer has been quoted acknowledging “that Saturday’s meeting is regarding McKee but has stated that council has not yet resolved to terminate McKee and is merely re-assessing his performance. Although he does acknowledge that termination may well be the outcome of this assessment.” (Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post, 9 October 2021)

This Extraordinary meeting was then re-scheduled three times with the same result. No quorum, no resolution.
However this has now been raised to the attention of the media and the Minister for Local Government who stated in an SMH article on 27th October

“Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said she had sought urgent advice from the Office of Local Government on how to intervene in the council, which has been stuck in limbo because it has lacked the required numbers at meetings for business to be discussed.

“In the interim, I am calling on the council to refrain from making any decision in relation to the general manager’s employment or other decisions with ramifications for the incoming council,” Mrs Hancock said on Wednesday.’ See the full link here.

However this issue of the General Manager’s position has persisted and extended into the Ordinary Council Meetings, effectively ensuring that no meetings have been held since September and no Council business conducted.

Additionally there have been more unpleasant manoeuvrings within council chambers that have resulted in Mayor Spencer being banned from speaking to staff.

Mr McKee wrote ‘“It is not appropriate for staff to be subjected to explicit or implicit threats of dismissal by a mayor. It is not appropriate for a mayor to threaten disciplinary or other retributory action towards staff, explicitly or implicitly.” For the full article click here.

We hope that this saga which has brought our Council into disrepute will soon come to an end as the council enters caretaker mode.