Resignation valid despite irregular route

Margaret Johns at last month’s council meeting.

THE resignation of former Derwent Valley councillor Rachel Power has been deemed valid despite being sent to the mayor instead of the general manager.

Mrs Power told ABC Radio on Wednesday that she had sent her resignation letter to mayor Ben Shaw.

The Local Government Act requires councillor resignations to be sent to the council’s general manager, who then has the responsibility of advising the council and the Electoral Commissioner.

Acting general manager Margaret Johns has confirmed that she received Mrs Power’s resignation via the mayor.

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has accepted the resignation and started the process to fill the vacancy via a recount of Mrs Power’s votes from last year’s council election.

Meanwhile Ms Johns’ appointment as acting general manager has been extended to October 9 while general manager Greg Winton is on leave.

At last month’s council meeting held at Bushy Park, acting mayor Jessica Cosgrove invited Ms Johns to introduce herself to those present. Ms Johns said she had been seconded from the Hobart City Council.

“I originally came in to cover the vacancy of the executive manager for community and governance, which I had been doing for a period of time,” Ms Johns said. “As you know, the general manager is on personal leave at the moment and the mayor appointed me to act in the role as acting general manager.”

From the public gallery, former councillor Chris Lester asked the acting mayor for the total cost of what he described as a “general manager, acting general manager, and an apprentice”. Cr Cosgrove referred the question to Ms Johns as an operational and staffing matter.

“At this point in time we have obviously a general manager and I am acting in that capacity at the moment,” Ms Johns said. “The recruitment for a deputy general manager has not yet been finalised, the applications close I believe at the end of [September].”

Another former councillor, Wayne Shoobridge, asked about the role of the council’s human resources officer given that inquiries and applications for the position of deputy general manager were directed to the general manager, and that councillors were to be appointed to assist in the interview process. Ms Johns said the human resources officer would facilitate the process and make sure human resource policies and procedures were followed.
In a follow-up question, Mr Lester asked whether it was unusual for councillors to be involved in appointing staff other than the general manager. “No, it’s not unusual, it’s in fact quite usual for councillors, aldermen, whatever the title may be, to actually participate in the recruitment process.,” Ms Johns said.

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