Archive: Council Staff

Last Updated  14/2/09



Industrial Relations Commission's Decision: Council Performances Condemn Ratepayers To More Expense

(29/9/08 - C)  $40,875 awarded to unfairly dismissed Shire employee, and it may not stop there

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission's decision ([2008] AIRC 1191, 12 September 2008), through Commissioner Lewin, has criticized Macedon Ranges Council and highly criticized a current Shire employee for events and their roles leading to the unfair dismissal of David Brown.  The Commission's decision follows an earlier direction that both parties consider reinstatement of Mr. Brown.  It is clear in this decision that not only didn't Council wish to reinstate Mr. Brown, but the Commission found reinstatement would likely be detrimental to Mr. Brown's interests. 


The Commission found that through Council's actions, Mr. Brown lost $683,436.11 in remuneration.  The amount awarded against Council ($40,875) is the statutory maximum amount of compensation the AIRC can award.  The Commission further notes that this amount relates to lost income, but not to "any issues of shock, distress, humiliation or other analogous hurt suffered by Mr. Brown as a result of the termination of his employment". 


You can access the decision by clicking on


MRRA Says:


Dear oh dear.  At least another $40,000 to be found from a budget that has no slack, thanks to the Kyneton pool, and those Councillors who favour it over prudent financial management.  Where will the money come from? 


To refresh your memory, Crs. Noel Harvey, Helen Relph, John Connor, Henry Bleeck, and Geoff Neil voted for the pool.


Council Loses David Brown Unfair Dismissal Case - Big Time

(6/7/08 - C)  And it's not over yet - the case and the costs to ratepayers

On 30 June 2008, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission handed down its decision on the unfair dismissal case brought against Macedon Ranges Shire Council by former employee, David Brown.  The AIRC has found that Council is guilty of bullying and of unfairly dismissing David Brown, and in its finding has ordered Council to reinstate him, if his health is up to it.  If no resolution is found, the matter goes back to the AIRC.  Below is an extract from the decision of the key matters dealt with. 

TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT – operational reasonsbullyingrestructureredundancycapacityconductopportunity to responds643 Workplace Relations Act 1996 – applicant made redundant for alleged operational reasons – applicant asserted that termination was employer’s retaliation against applicant for lodging complaint regarding manager’s bullying – Commission previously rejected employer’s assertions regarding operational reasons and allowed matter to proceed – internal investigation found manger guilty of bullying – two employees made successful complaints against manager – no valid reason for termination – restructure unsound because motivated by antagonism – satisfied that termination was, in part, retaliation against applicant for lodging complaint against manager – termination grossly infected by prejudice – no valid reason for termination relating to either capacity or conduct – termination also harsh, unjust and unreasonable [Byrne and Frew] – no opportunity to respond – matter to be relisted for remedy.

You can access the decision from the AIRC website by clicking on


MRRA Says:


It's a damning finding, and congratulations to Mr. Brown for pursuing it so successfully. 


The big unknown here is how much will Council's behaviour cost ratepayers?  Given the finding of Council being guilty of bullying etc., there may be ramifications (including financial ramifications) for Council under occupational health legislation, and if Mr. Brown isn't reinstated, there may also be compensation to be paid.  On top of all of that, there are Council's costs in pursuing the matter, and potentially Mr. Brown's costs as well. 


This adds to the substantial costs Council has incurred with the Romsey pokies decision (its own and the pokie applicant's - amounts still unknown). 


The costs of these Council 'oopses' are not likely to be cheap (all up, we are likely talking a large 'six-figure' amount here).  Neither of these 'oopses', to the best of our knowledge, were accommodated in the 2008/2009 Budget.  In addition, all of these financial 'unknowns' are a bit of a worry with a Council that has committed almost all of its financial resources to funding the Kyneton pool.  That is, a Council which doesn't have any scope for 'contingencies' like this.  It might be an interesting exercise to start listing what wasn't included in the 2008/2009 Budget...


Hmm...  Ratepayers might like to ponder the question: Can we afford a Council that, apparently through its own incompetence, keeps incurring massive and avoidable penalties?


Is The Sky The Limit For Council's Costs In Its Fight Against A Charge Of Unfair Dismissal?

(11/3/08 - C)  Help!  Has anyone got the facts?

A resident this week whipped in some ballpark figures for what it might be costing Council to defend a charge brought against it for unfair dismissal by former employee, David Brown.  Here is that resident's estimate of costs so far:


Original commission hearing About $15,000
Another 5 days at the commission About $30,000
Full bench hearing About $15,000 per day (no. of days unknown)


Has anyone got any clues about whether this is or could be correct?


Former Romsey Shire Head Is Next Macedon Ranges' CEO

(29/10/07 - C)   Currently CEO of Corangamite Shire

Peter Johnson will be the next CEO in Macedon Ranges, following the departure of current Macedon Ranges' CE Ian Morris in December.  According to MRRA sources, Mr. Johnson is a former CEO of Romsey Shire, spent some time at Western Water, and is leaving his current post as CEO in Corangamite Shire to return to Macedon Ranges.


MRRA Says:

Thanks to our friends in south western Victoria for the tip.  Mr. Johnson's Romsey background is interesting.  As far as we can tell, unlike current CE Ian Morris, Mr. Johnson has no planning background so his arrival will signal quite a change.  MRRA says "welcome" to Mr. Johnson, and will take great interest in how things go at Council.  As MRRA has said before, in its view, after Ian Morris's five years at the helm his will be large shoes to fill but for now, everyone will just have to wait and see.


Macedon Ranges' Chief Executive Calls It A Day

(29/5/07 - C)  Some big achievements and a vision to get Macedon Ranges going in the right direction..

Macedon Ranges CE Ian Morris has announced he will retire at the end of this year.  Appointed in late 2002 to replace then CEO Lydia Wilson, Mr. Morris took up his post just before the March 2003 Council election.  After an initial 'getting to know you' period, Mr. Morris began making some significant changes, including introduction of Planning Committee meetings which for the first time allowed residents to address Council on planning issues, introducing 'open to the public' Council committees to replace closed briefing sessions, and more lately, supporting major changes to the MR Councillors' Code of Conduct to introduce a much higher level of accountability (the key points of which were rejected by a majority of current Councillors).  Council improvements under Mr. Morris have been more of a quiet revolution than a big splash. Hallmarks of his tenure have been a greater focus on openness and accountability, comprehensive restructure of Council's offices, and improvements to planning processes - including the introduction of Macedon Ranges' first statutory planner in 2004, some 9 years after Council amalgamations in 1995.


MRRA Says:


Mr. Morris' retirement is a blow for Macedon Ranges. He has made a real and substantial difference, and his has been the most positive and productive administration for this Shire since amalgamation. His will be large shoes to fill. 


A strong supporter of his staff, he has also gone in to bat repeatedly for open government and promoting this community's interests.  A planner, he too is the first CEO to take an interest in - and address - strategic planning issues in the Shire.  Yes, there have been instances where some think he hasn't done the right thing on specific issues.  No-one is perfect, and in MRRA's view, his virtues and achievements outweigh negatives when considered in the context of the bigger picture. 


Mr. Morris' tenure has been dogged by numerous, unsettling changes in Councillors, with five new Councillors in 2003, two by-elections within 6 months in 2004, and another five 'new' Councillors in 2005.  He inherited an appalling Council culture (which saw five Councillors thrown out in 2003) yet managed over the first three years to start to turn that culture around.  However, eliminating the culture completely was always going to be a big ask, and unfortunately remnants of it have survived and are now being fanned by the attitudes brought to the table by some of our Councillors. 


The critical question for Macedon Ranges' future is, of course, where to from here...  Our current Councillors will choose the next CEO, who will likely be appointed for at least 3 years, and so very much hangs on their choice.  Will it be an appointment that drags us all backwards to the murky culture some are so comfortable with and which serves individual more than public interests, or will it be a decision that rolls Macedon Ranges forward from the foundation laid down by Ian Morris?