Archive: Noel Harvey

Last Updated  29/3/10



Former Mayor Noel Harvey: Latest Developments On Macedon Ranges' CEO Contract

(21/8/09 - C)  Local politician and current Mayor stand up for good governance


The CEO Contract Chronicles continue with three more articles/letters in 3 weeks in the Midland Express.


First on 4/8/09 was an article reporting on local Northern Region Upper House rep Donna Petrovich, who raised in parliament the former mayor Noel Harvey's role in signing a new CEO's contract without authorization.  Ms Petrovich also raised Mr. Harvey's action last year, sending the Planning Minister Justin Madden a press release announcing Macedon Ranges didn't need Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 when it didn't seem to have the knowledge or support of a number of other Councillors.


The following week, in the 11/8/09 edition of the Midland Express, Mr. Harvey came back with claims he had Councillors' authorization to sign the CEO's contract and has the documentation to prove it, and heavy criticism of Ms. Petrovich (herself a former Mayor of Macedon Ranges).  Mr. Harvey also protested that Ms Petrovich had unfairly raised the matters under parliamentary privilege.


This week, current Mayor John Letchford responds strongly to Mr. Harvey's comments in a Letter to the Editor (Midland Express), pointing out not only that the official record does not seem to support Mr. Harvey's version of events, but confirming that complaints about Mr. Harvey have been referred to the Ombudsman and Auditor-General for investigation and suggesting Mr. Harvey take a more cautious approach to issuing statements.


Click here to see latest articles and letter to the editor.

Click here to see MRRA's original story on the removal of Statement Of Planning Policy No. 8

Click here to see the Hansard extract of Ms. Petrovich's speech in parliament


MRRA Says:


Seems a bit rich for Mr. Harvey to point the finger at Ms. Petrovich for acting under parliamentary privilege, when he didn't seem to have the same complaint when his press release that announced we here in Macedon Ranges no longer wanted Statement of Planning Policy No.8 landed in parliament.  That gem of wishful thinking was dropped out - under parliamentary privilege - by the Minister for Planning last October.


We would certainly like to see the documentation Mr. Harvey claims he is holding which establishes that in signing the unsealed contract of August 2008, he acted with due and proper authorization.  We can't help thinking, wouldn't it have been simpler, if the authorization Mr. Harvey claims exists, to just put it all on the public record through a resolution of Council?  The question of whether a new contact could legally be made at that time is still to be answered.


These are serious matters. The Association hopes the Ombudsman and Auditor General undertake a comprehensive investigation, and provide this community with the answers it demands and deserves.


Bouquets to Ms. Petrovich and Mayor Letchford for making some excellent points that many in this community could no doubt agree with.



More Funding For Macedon Ranges

(21/8/09 - C)  Tourism this time

The fickle finger of funding has again pointed at Macedon Ranges with a $7 million plus funding handout for tourism in the "Spa" region: Daylesford and Macedon Ranges.  The announcement was made by the Brumby government last weekend.


MRRA Says:

How lucky is Macedon Ranges?  The funding will no doubt be a welcome boost to the area's tourism credentials.  It comes on the heels of an incredible and surprise donation of $5 million for the Kyneton pool, along with a series of other substantial funding windfalls from stunningly generous State and Federal Labor governments.


Is it because Macedon Ranges is within the most marginal electorate in the country (McEwen)?  Could it be because there are State and Federal elections coming up next year?


Coincidentally, Mr. Noel Harvey is reported to have recently been appointed to the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges 'department' of Tourism Victoria.



Concerns Over Macedon Ranges' CEO Contract Deepen As Noel Harvey Hits Out At Former Councillor Colleagues

(22/7/09 - C)   Harvey admits signing dubious CEO contract but claims lack of Council seal is an 'administrative oversight' - response from former councillor colleague refutes Harvey's claims - story picked up Sunday Herald Sun - expanded by Glen Eira Residents' blog


An article in the Midland Express on 30 June ("Is there a CEO contract?") seems to have triggered interest further afield as to whether Macedon Ranges Shire's current CEO has a valid contract with the Council.  The Express raised questions as to the legitimacy of a 'contract' signed by former Mayor, Noel Harvey, when there was no resolution of Council supporting the signed contract, to which additionally the Council seal was not fixed.


Noel Harvey then weighed in with a letter to the Midland Express ("Above Board" 30/6/09) admitting he signed the 'contract' and saying the failure to use the Council seal was an administrative error.  I the letter, Mr. Harvey also advised his former fellow Councillors that any who disagreed with his version of events leading up to the signing of the contract would be either "negligent or dishonest".


In the same edition, current Mayor, John Letchford, announced Council would be seeking legal advice on the matter.


This provoked a response ("The Truth", 7/7/09, Letter) from former Councillor Tom Gyorffy (a Crown prosecutor), who vigorously challenged Mr. Harvey's account.  He rejected Mr. Harvey's assertion of dishonesty or negligence on the part of any previous Councillor who didn't support his claims.  Mr. Gyorffy recalled a different scenario, where the issue of the CEO's contract was raised by Mr. Harvey but not followed up with all other councillors, and certainly no resolution of Council was made to support Mr. Harvey's subsequent actions.


This edition of the Express also included an article where the current Mayor, John Letchford, also criticized Mr. Harvey.


Roll forward to 12th July, when James Campbell wrote an article for the Sunday Herald Sun titled "Watchdog Worry", raising concerns with Mr. Harvey's appointment to the Victorian government's inaugural Councillor Conduct Panel, particularly as his conduct is also under investigation over allegations he extended the CEO's contract in Macedon Ranges Shire without appropriate authorization.  In this article Mr. Harvey (who is listed as Vice-President of the Kyneton branch of the Labor Party on the branch's website) claimed concerns and criticisms were politically motivated and pointed out he had been awarded an OAM for services to community.


However, concerns for Mr. Harvey's appointment have also been expressed by the Glen Eira Residents' Blog, which quickly picked up the SHS story (Glen Eira Council was rocked by misconduct allegations a few years ago, with the Council being suspended).  The Glen Eira folk provide an up-front commentary on their view of Mr. Harvey's behaviour and his appointment to the Councillor Conduct Panel, as well as the CEO's performance.


MRRA Says:

About the best that can be said is that it's not a good look. The imperative is for this matter to be independently and transparently investigated to ascertain whether bad luck or bad behaviour are at play.  As for Mr. Harvey's claim of political motivations, it may benefit Mr. Harvey to consider that not everyone is as politically committed as he may be, and that complaints and concerns may stem more from ethical than political motivations.  Many may see the focal point of all of this as establishing whether transparency, honesty and integrity in the conduct and events surrounded this sorry episode in Macedon Ranges history.  We understand 3 complaints and requests for investigation have already gone to the Ombudsman, and we heartily encourage the Ombudsman to act.



 What's Going On With Macedon Ranges' CEO's Contract, And Why Did Noel Harvey Sign It?

(21/6/09 - C)  With the big questions this issue raises, isn't it time everything was laid on the table?

This week's Midland Express had a story on page 3 that related the tale of there being not one but apparently two CEO contracts floating around in Macedon Ranges.  The first (three years plus 2) seems to have the legitimacy of being backed by a Council resolution, the second (five years, back-dated to January 2008), apparently does not.  It seems that the second (five year) contract is signed by the former Mayor Noel Harvey and two others as witnesses to the application of Council's seal.  But, according to the Express, the seal wasn't on the second contract.


The current Mayor, John Letchford, is noted in the Express article as now seeking legal advice.


MRRA Says:


As there is apparently a Council resolution on the books endorsing a contract for a 3 year term with an option for two more years (3 + 2), we presume there is a legal contract for three years plus two as well.  According to the Express, it seems there is also a signed but unsealed contract for a straight five year term in existence, even though there is apparently no record of a Council resolution authorizing that change.


We've had a quick look at the Local Government Act, and Section 94 (7)  says:


A contract of employment as Chief Executive Officer between a Council and a person is void if it is made—


(b) while a current contract of employment as Chief Executive Officer with the person exists and that current contract is not due to expire for at least another 6 months...


This provision has been in the Act since 2005, so it applied in August 2008 which is when the Express says the second contract was signed. Our Association met with CEO Peter Johnston in February 2008, just weeks after he started working here - our request for a meeting in fact was sent to him in December 2007 at the Shire of Corangamite, where he was previously CEO.  By our reckoning, any second contract signed in 2008 would be void under the Act.


According to the Express, the August 2008 five year contract was signed by the (then) Mayor (Noel Harvey*) and two unidentified others.


Why would a (former) Mayor sign such a CEO's contract, if as it seems there wasn't a Council resolution endorsing and authorizing that action, and the Act points to the contract being void?   Why would someone sign a contract as a witness to the application of Council seal, if the seal was not applied?  Who were the other signatories to the contract?


What's been going on?


*  NOTE:  Former Macedon Ranges ' mayor Noel Harvey has now been confirmed as a member of the Victorian government's Councillor Conduct Panel, which will sit in judgement of complaints about Councillors' misconduct from across the State.  See below.



Ex-Macedon Ranges' Mayor Noel Harvey Could Be On The Move

(30/5/09 - SG)  Two new appointments to two important State-level positions?


If reports are right, 'our' Noel could be about to land two plum paid positions with the State government.


The word we are hearing is that Noel has been nominated to the State government's new Councillor Conduct Panels which, according to the Municipal Association of Victoria's [MAV's] website will "consider misconduct applications against individual councillors".  In other words, the panels will sit in and pass judgement on councillors who misbehave.  The panels will consist of five legal practitioners, and seven persons with relevant experience in municipal governance.  MAV says it received 60 applications.


The Councillor Conduct Panels stem from legislation passed late last year in an attempt to tighten up the Local Government Act with regard to Councillor conflicts of interest and unbiased decision-making, and are intended to promote accountability and transparency in local government.


The second position is reputed to be Chair of a Tourism Victoria committee dealing with tourism in Macedon Ranges and Hepburn.


Noel seems to have always had an outstanding talent for picking up these types of appointments, and he himself acknowledged in his Council candidate statement in 2005, that "over the last 25 years I have served on more than 40 different organisations..."


Some of those he is presently or recently associated with include President of the Board at Kyneton District Health Service, and the boards of Parks Victoria, Coliban Water, North Central Catchment Management Authority, and the Victorian Mineral Water Committee.  He is also a former member of Timber Towns, the Victorian National Action Plan / Natural Heritage Trust Independent Advisory Panel and the Envirofund Victorian Assessment Panel.


MRRA Says:

No problem with people being appointed to government committees etc., but the Brimbank 'Labor mates and influence' scandal* has everyone on edge, and higher standards than may have been applied in the past are now demanded.  If the public interest - and public confidence - is to be served, being and being seen to be at arm's length is everything.  Does Noel pass the test?  Here's what Matthew Guy, Victorian Shadow Minister for Planning had to say about Noel in parliament on 28 October, 2008.  Make up your own mind...


* Click here to see the Ombudsman's report into Brimbank Council.



Kyneton Pool: And So It Came To Pass That $5 Million Belatedly Landed On Macedon Ranges...

(30/5/09 - C)   With luck like that, who needs Labor party friends in high places?

As everyone now knows, the Federal government has provided Macedon Ranges with $5 million for the Kyneton indoor pool.  All up, along with State government funding of $2.5 million, it means the pool will now go ahead.  However, concerns for cost blow-outs and 'extras' which are being added (now that making the pool seem cheap and viable is no longer an imperative) remain unabated.  Remember, everything over $7.5 million is at Macedon Ranges' ratepayers' expense, as will be the operating costs (Gisborne currently runs at around $250,000 annual loss which comes out of rates).  As far as we can see, the cost of the Kyneton pool has already gone from some $8.7 million (before receiving the Federal funding) to some $9.4 million post-funding - that's already a $700,000 or 8% cost increase.  And climbing?


Federal governments may be able to talk in hundreds of thousands of dollars as if it's loose change, but Macedon Ranges Shire definitely can't. We call on our Councillors to think about some better causes our rates could be spent on before donating any more of them to the Kyneton pool.


MRRA is also concerned at just how the $5 million Federal funding was got.  The drums told us Kyneton would miss out.  And on the day the big announcements were made across the nation, Kyneton didn't get a brass razoo.  Then, just a few days later, abracadabra, there was the money!  Pure magic.  We understand most of our Councillors were taken totally by surprise to find they had after all been holding a winning ticket (although it seems despite the surprise, one or two had speeches on hand to thank the Federal minister).





And what crackerjack luck - it seems a key proponent of the pool (dare we say it - former Mayor Noel Harvey) just happened to be on hand for the big announcement and photo opportunities!  Now that's what you really call a crackerjack coincidence.  Magnificent!



Noel Harvey (centre) at Local Govt Conference with PM Rudd

(Source: Kyneton Connect, December 2008 edition











MRRA Says:


MRRA's President, Brian Whitefield, wrote to local newspapers this week raising these issues.  We would like to share his letter with you:

I would like to know just what is going on with the Kyneton pool.  A strong rodent-like smell has emanated from this project for a long time, and it seems to be getting stronger.


First off, a decision on going ahead was put off, we were told, until the actual, that is, the REAL cost was known.  It somehow came in lower than originally estimated.  But hey, now council has the Federal millions, guess what?  Costs are going up!


Seems the things stripped out of the project – like kiosks – to squeeze costs down so the pool looked “reasonable” to councillors who thought the community couldn’t afford it, and to hoodwink pollies, are being put back and then some.


How about sticking to what you said were the REAL costs, council!  Stop acting like it’s open season on ratepayers and spending our money on extras you said weren’t needed.  Or were we all cynically misled?


 And another thing.  How come, when the Federal grants were first announced, there wasn’t a cent for the Kyneton pool, but a week later, hello hello, a hefty $5 million fell in our lap?  When did ‘no’ become ‘yes’, and why?  There’s that rodent-like smell again - is it time to go to the Ombudsman?