Special Council Meeting - Dan Stewart
Special Council Meeting - Dan Stewart

Stewart welcomes Gympie CEO resignation and says why

GYMPIE region councillor Dan Stewart has welcomed the resignation of departing CEO Bernard Smith and called for a fresh start with robust but respectful relationships and a better flow of information.

Mr Smith resigned at a special meeting of Gympie Regional Council yesterday and, although his pay package is confidential, it is understood he will be paid all his entitlements under his contract of employment, with another six months salary on separation.

Mr Stewart on his Facebook page said even councillors had experienced trouble getting answers to their questions under the previous council regime, but did not say whose fault that was.

On Mr Smith, he said he had received “a significant amount of feedback from residents he would not have wanted him to have a third term with the council.“

Mr Smith will finish in the job tomorrow and his replacement, for the moment at least, is corporate and community director Pauline Gordon, who is now acting chief executive.

The council yesterday issued a statement marking the “end of an era,” in which Mr smith expressed his pride in “how much thee region has advanced” since his appointment in 2011 (full text below).

Mr Stewart said he had heard “a rumour before the election that if Glen Hartwig was elected mayor he (Mr Smith) would resign.

“For me the most critical relationship in council is between the mayor and the CEO

“There will inevitably be push back over the blurry line between policy and operations. There needs to be robust debate between the mayor and CEO.

“There needs to be trust and respect between both parties.

“That was lacking between Mayor Hartwig and CEO Smith.

“I had concerns about the financial direction of council and the direction of some of the projects. At times it seemed hard to get the answers one wanted. In each case there could be debate about whether the former mayor or the CEO was at fault. There was no way I would want the CEO to have a third term,” he said.

In my election campaigning and before I received a significant amount of feedback from residents that there needed to be a change in CEO and mayor. Thus, while I and mayor Hartwig could not take part in the meeting while the CEO’s position was being decided due to a conflict of interest, we both support the decision the other councillors made to accept the resignation of the CEO.

We agreed to invite director Pauline Gordon to be acting CEO until we find a new CEO. This could take several months. We need to start from scratch, deciding on selection criteria and key performance indicators before advertising for a replacement and going through the selection process.

The council’s statement on behalf of Mr Smith is published here in full.

END OF AN ERA FOR COUNCIL CEO

Gympie Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith’s resignation was accepted yesterday at a special council meeting held at the Town Hall.

Mr Smith joined Gympie Regional Council in August 2011 and said he is proud of how much the region has advanced since that time.

“Our region is on the cusp of significant growth. Preparing the region for that growth by investing in quality infrastructure, improving liveability and having an aspiration for our future has been a key driver for me during my nine years as CEO,” said Mr Smith.

Mr Smith said he was immensely proud of the council staff’s contribution to not only providing everyday services for the community but also for its forward-thinking in preparing our region for future generations.

“Our organisation has evolved and is now well respected within the local government sector as being forward thinking and progressive.

Outgoing Gympie Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith at the first meeting of the new elected council.
Outgoing Gympie Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith at the first meeting of the new elected council.

“I’d like to thank all of the councillors I have worked with since 2011, as well as the incredible staff, for all they have done to help us achieve this,” he said.

“When I look at the projects we have delivered – the ARC, The Rattler, a number of skate parks and trails, not to mention our investment in the region’s roads, bridges and pipes, as well as the part we have played in supporting tertiary education options, improving community services and boosting employment opportunities for locals – we are an attractive and envied region and I’m proud of that.”

“I would like to say thank you to the fantastic staff and urge them to keep working towards Council’s vision to make our region the natural choice to live, work and play.

“A lot of the staff’s work is not always noticed or recognised by the broader community, but I know how hard they all work and I want them to know that I have appreciated all they have done and will continue to do for our region,” said Mr Smith.

Gympie Times


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