SPEECH TO PUBLIC FORUM, KU-RING-GAI COUNCIL by Mrs Kathy Cowley, FOKE President
Tuesday 12 September 2023
“The decision tonight to reinstate the General Manger Mr McKee is a critical one for residents and Ku-ring-gai. One we’re very unlikely to forget!
We are shocked and dismayed that Mr McKee has been sacked without any warning or due cause. We believe the sacking is not only, opportunist, unfair and against the principals of due diligence and good governance by an elected body of council.
You have provided no credible or rational reason to sack the GM. By sacking him at the last meeting you usurped the council’s meeting agenda which was to discuss the General Managers performance for which we believe was measured as more than satisfactory.
So where are the reasons for this sudden and unexplained action?
- There has been no evidence or allegations of maleficence.
- No suggestion of scandal or misconduct.
- No evidence of lack of capacity or ability to carry out his work.
- and no calling from the general community of Ku-ring-gai to sack him.
Your sudden and drastic decision can only be seen for what it is, a tawdry political hatchet job, made worse by the frantic jockeying to be the next Mayor next week. Backed and supported by a local MP, who has no role or no right to interfere in Ku-ring-gai Council decision making.
Further the group of six has used an ideological argument that “it’s time for a change” which is not a valid argument to sack a loyal General Manager and with no justification bought forward to support it. His performance has been assessed by many councillors and past mayors, three of whom have written a public letter of support for Mr McKee, and reinforcing the fact that the GM has had a more than satisfactory performance not just for the last two years but for the last 17 years.
The sacking of Mr McKee is a high-risk strategy with the potential to destabilise the senior staff, disrupt the day-to-day management of the council, and will undoubtedly cause reputational damage to council and councillors.
We fear destabilisation of senior staff could lead to the intervention of the State Government – such as an appointment of an Administrator.
Residents need to rely on a stable Council with experienced staff that can lead Ku-ring-gai through the next tranche of massive rezonings for which we are warned are on the agenda by the Labor Government. Mr McKee has a consistent track record in leading this council through major challenges.
Councillors have been elected to consult widely with their constituents and to make decisions in the public interest not political self-interests. The community’s reaction to this decision should give cause for the six councillors to look at their own actions as to whether they have put in a satisfactory performance. The community will have the opportunity to assess that at the ballot box.
For Ku-ring-gai’s sake we urge you to right a wrong and reinstate Mr McKee.”